Freddie reminds us that legalizing marijuana is deadly serious:
In 2007 there were over 850,000 marijuana arrests (PDF). The United States has only 5% of the worlds population but imprisons 25% of its prisoners. The federal government spent over $15 billion on the drug war in 2010, or a rate of $500 a second. Our country is 66% non-Hispanic white people but 70% of our prisoners are non-white. The justice system is overwhelmingly unfriendly to the poor. And on and on.
I don't understand how it can possibly remain the case that these facts are out there and yet marijuana legalization is somehow seen as a less than serious issue. This is a social justice issue. This is a racial justice issue. This is a deficit reduction issue. This is an issue of elementary personal freedoms. But we can't fix things as long as people who are ostensibly in favor of decriminalization continue to say so with a smirk, or relegate the issue to the margins, or treat it as a distraction or joke. It's time to get serious about a serious and deeply troubling issue.
(Photo: Darnell Thomas (L) reads while his cellmate Freddron Mendoza works on his poetry in their cell at Sheridan Correctional Center on November 14, 2005 in Sheridan, Illinois. A dedicated center for the treatment of inmates with drug and alcohol abuse problems, the state opened Sheridan in January 2004 to combat a recidivism rate of 54% in its penal system. Nearly 69 percent of all inmates in the Illinois prison system are serving time for drug or alcohol related offenses. The recidivism rate for prisoners who have served time at Sheridan is only 7.7 percent. By Scott Olson/Getty Images)