We see it, we smell it, and it seems to be everywhere. The push is on to legalize recreational marijuana. But is it a solution or just the start of new problems?
The humor in Afroman’s hit song “Because I Got High” drives home the deeper message that getting high can be so good you don’t want to do anything else. More than two-thirds of Americans have no problem with it, according to recent Gallup Poll.
But Bishop Jethro James of Paradise Baptist Church foresees trouble ahead because good employers may ask people to be drug-tested. So if you can’t work, you will have other problems.
Popular culture and music are full of smoking celebrities, and weed images and references, especially in hip hop.
Bishop James is concerned legalization and increased use will make it even more difficult for young African Americans in economically disadvantaged communities to get ahead.
Recreational use is legal in eight states plus the District of Columbia. But not in New York City. Possession of small amounts of marijuana has been decriminalized and overall arrests are down, but racial disparities in enforcement remain. A recent report says you’re still about eight times more likely to get arrested for smoking marijuana if you’re black or Latino, despite the fact that blacks, Latinos and whites smoke at comparable rates.
Chris Alexander, the policy coordinator at the Drug Policy Alliance, said his group wants to remove marijuana as a “tool for criminalization” and advocates for legalization.
Former prosecutor Charles Tucker Jr., the founding partner of Tucker Moore Law Group, said making marijuana legal would take away the tool of racial profiling and will slightly level the playing field.
A marijuana conviction on your record is an automatic disqualifier for many jobs and educational programs. Tucker believes that legalization must also rectify the damage already been done. That means any new law or measure must also expunge convictions and “right the right the wrongs and put these individuals back on solid ground.”
Bishop James acknowledges the racial disparity with law enforcement but said his main concern about legalization is with the social impact in neighborhoods where resources are scarce.
FEATURED CAST: LISA EVERS, Host and Executive Producer, Street Soldiers https://twitter.com/lisaevers
CHARLES TUCKER JR., Founding Partner, Tucker Moore Law Group https://twitter.com/sirchase27
CHRIS ALEXANDER, Policy Coordinator, Drug Policy Alliance https://twitter.com/DrugPolicyOrg
BISHOP JETHRO JAMES JR., Pastor, Paradise Baptist Church, and Chaplain, New Jersey State Police https://paradisebaptistchurch.org