There are lots of reasons that states and cities have come up with to legalize marijuana, either for medical use or recreational. The medical side of things is pretty well-established. Even if you get the strong feeling that the idea of “medical marijuana” is overused, there is little denying anymore that it certainly does some people a whole lot of good.
As far as recreational use, that often comes down to the simple fact that this is America, and in America we don’t tell our citizens that they can’t do something without a damn good reason. And the “reasons” for denying adults the right to smoke, eat, or otherwise consume marijuana are evaporating fast.
Localities that have legalized marijuana in one form or another are boasting a drop in traffic fatalities, an increase in tax revenues, fewer prescription painkiller deaths, and no increase in underage use — all the opposite of what opponents claimed would happen.
And now we have another popular argument for decriminalization or legalization being dusted off and brought to bear in the District of Columbia. That is the issue of race.
Specifically, the idea is that black people are disproportionately prosecuted for the victimless “crime” of marijuana possession compared to the prosecution rates of white people. Some say that this is because black people are unfairly arrested more often than their marijuana-carrying white neighbors. Others say that this is simply because more black people use marijuana than white people.
But the pro-pot line of reasoning in D.C. shortcuts both those arguments with a simple solution: legalize it.
If the folks in D.C. pursue this line of logic, and do manage to legalize marijuana in some way, it could have far-reaching effects.
“I think D.C. is going to probably set off a chain of events in which communities of color generally and cities in particular take on the issue of legalization as a racial justice, social justice issue in a much stronger way than they have so far," said Bill Piper, director of national affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance.
A successful legalization campaign in D.C., especially one that relies heavily on the argument of racial and social justice, could give other states yet another weapon to use in the legalization fight.