This 4/20, we’re clear: Marijuana prohibition doesn’t keep any of us safer – and it’s not intended to.
The war on drugs was designed to justify the criminalization and mass incarceration of hundreds of thousands of Americans, fueling billions of dollars in profits for the prison industrial complex, devastating communities of color, and maintaining a white supremacist status quo.
“Convictions for drug offenses are the single most important cause of the explosion in incarceration rates in the United States…more than 31 million people have been arrested for drug offenses since the drug war began. Nothing has contributed more to the systemic mass incarceration of people of color in the United States than the War on Drugs.”Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow
Here are the facts:
- The United States is home to 25% of the world’s incarcerated population, but only 5% of the world’s total population.
- 25% of incarcerated people in the United States are serving time for a drug offense.
- Over 1.6 million people are arrested, prosecuted, incarcerated, placed under supervision and/or deported each year on a drug law violation. 75% of arrests are marijuana related, and 85% of arrests are solely for possession.
- Legalization is a racial justice issue. White people use marijuana at similar or higher rates than communities of color, but:
- Nearly 80% of people in federal prison and almost 60% of people in state prison for drug offenses are Black or Latinx.
- Prosecutors are twice as likely to pursue a mandatory minimum sentence for Black people as for white people charged with the same offense. Among people who received a mandatory minimum sentence in 2011, 38% were Latino and 31% were Black.
- Black Minnesotans are 5.4 times more likely than white people to be arrested for marijuana possession – higher than the national average. Across the country, Black Americans are 3.6 times more likely to be arrested for possession.
People created systems of criminalization and incarceration – and we the people can create something better. We’re organizing to disrupt the status quo and act for fully funded, people-centered safety. We’re saying yes to legalization, expungement, and community investment.