Lara Herzog

Ever since Colorado and Washington  legalized marijuana, people have realized how much of a big business it actually is.  So far Colorado has brought in over $200 million in revenue, and now it’s even a bigger hotbed of tourist activity.  Just imagine the other states that are noticing the huge success of weed, best believe they’ll attempt to profit off of it.

But what do the faces of those profiting off of weed look like?

White and male of course.

For the longest time, black men and women have faced hefty jail sentences over petty weed cases, and if you think that’ll stop now that marijuana is legalized in  a couple of states, you’re wrong.

Just look at the arrests in Colorado as an example. Between 1986 and 2010, more than  210,000 people were arrested for marijuana possession according to a report from the Marijuana Arrest Research Project, and they still remain behind bars. 

Earlier this year, Michelle Alexander, associate professor of law at Ohio State University and author of  The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness   held an open forum on March 6 with Asha Bandele of the  Drug Policy Alliance.

Alexander basically broke it down to the core, as to who will make profits and who  will stay behind bars.

“In many ways the imagery doesn’t sit right,” said Alexander.  “Here are white men poised to run big marijuana businesses, dreaming of cashing in big—big money, big businesses selling weed—after 40 years of impoverished black kids getting prison time for selling weed, and their families and futures destroyed. Now, white men are planning to get rich doing precisely the same thing?”

Although Washington, D.C. recently decriminalized small amounts of  marijuana, what does the district plan on doing with those people who have already been arrested? Do they get to collect their get out of jail free card and continue on with their lives?

Probably not.

But sure, let’s make a bunch of white men rich(er) and allow them to sell the exact same product that landed these men and women in jail.

During the March 6 conversation, Alexander went on to further point out the fact that black men and boys have been public enemy number one, when it comes to the war on drugs.

“Black men and boys” have been the target of the war on drugs’ racist policies—stopped, frisked and disturbed—“often before they’re old enough to vote,” she said.

“We arrest these kids at young ages, saddle them with criminal records, throw them in cages, and then release them into a parallel social universe in which the very civil and human rights supposedly won in the Civil Rights movement no longer apply to them for the rest of their lives,” Alexander said. “They can be discriminated against [when it comes to] employment, housing, access to education, public benefits. They’re locked into a permanent second-class status for life. And we’ve done this in precisely the communities that were most in need of our support.”

The world of legalized weed is only going to line the pockets and benefit those who have benefited off of putting black faces behind bars.  Just think, it’s a win win for Colorado, make money from weed, and make money from the prison system.

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  • Mary Mose

    Michelle Alexander is married to a US Prosecutor name Carter Mitchell Stewart. He has locked up countless people in prison for Marijuana related offenses. For her to to not disclose this to her audience is downright criminal. What a sham, what a farce, what a joke.

    • bob sampson

      She mentioned it at the start of her book.

    • Mary Mose

      She mentions it but she doesn’t go into detail. Every year Carter puts dozens of minorities in prison for Marijuana. That is literally his only job as a Prosector. Every case he tries is being prosecuted by the DEA or the FBI. He is basically a DEA lawyer.

  • TJHillgardner

    Regardless of color, no one should do jail time for a plant. The people getting rich on “legal” marijuana are mostly greedy fucks willing to prostitute themselves for money. Justice is still far away in many respects.

  • ctti87

    “In many ways, the imagery doesn’t sit right. Here are white men poised to run big marijuana businesses, dreaming of cashing in big — big money, big businesses selling weed — after 40 years of impoverished black kids getting prison time for selling weed, and their families and futures destroyed. Now, white men are planning to get rich doing precisely the same thing?”

    Straight-up race-baiting bullshit. I will readily acknowledge that in many parts of the world, non-white people are often treated poorly in comparison to white people. I’ve seen it in my own country.

    But the author seems to be missing the point that people are cashing in on the weed business now because it’s finally legal in certain states. Dealers no longer have to meet buyers in secret locations to hand over a bag of weed for some cash. Now, they can be out in the open, have their industry regulated, and make big bucks. And THIS is what the author uses to point out racism in the US?

    Sorry, man. The US government and legal system may have been unfair to poor black kids, but that’s no excuse to ignore the fact that these black kids were arrested for selling weed at a time when it was ILLEGAL to do so. Unlike the weed business owners of today, they were unlicensed sellers. Could the legal system have been more lenient, considering that many of them were just trying to make ends meet by selling a soft drug? Should it? I personally think so. But white dealers are now expected to feel guilty that they’re taking advantage of the market at an opportune time? Give me a break.

    The author also conveniently does not bother providing statistics to back up the claim that (all or most of) the businesspeople cashing in on the marijuana market are white.

    If you want to make a point about racism, don’t conflate it with business opportunities some white people happen to take. All you’re really doing is digressing from actual relevant discussions about race and racial bias in society.

    • disqusplaya

      Exactly Correct.

      And… what does the author propose? We’re supposed to keep supporting the status quo of incarcerating black people for drug offenses? Destroying lives and families? Because somebody might profit off a LEGAL product? And that somebody happens to be people with financial capital and means to grow businesses, and those people happen to be whiter?

      Bunk.

      Heck, you want to get in on the gold rush – provide investment opportunities for people of color to build businesses on this new opportunity.

      Legalization opens the door to releasing drug offenders. That doesn’t mean the work is over. It means the work is just getting started.

  • Kristian Steve
  • bob sampson

    I dont know why you’re defending a law that still makes marijuana illegal on so many levels and is basically a buyout for several big corporations. We need to fight for something better

    Also get away from the sexist BS that someone is defined by their husband.

    • Mary Mose

      Right, im sure the law is “just not good enough” for Michelle. Im sure her opposition to legalization has nothing to do with her being married to a Drug Warrior, or being a Drug Warrior herself.

      Her only real defense is that she feels guilty coming home to a house every night where the lights are on because the electric bill was paid for with US Attorney money. Money which was earned putting minorities in prison for Marijuana. Because that is her husband, Carter’s only job, is to put minorities in prison for Marijuana. And he does a damn good job too.