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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Libertarian Bruce Majors: On DC Council 2014 marijuana legislation

I am glad the D.C. city council is "decriminalizing" casual marijuana use today so it is a small fine.

But by keeping it a crime to smoke it in public, they are basically saying college kids can use it, and African Americans young people east of 14th Street NW will be arrested when they do.

Here is the Opening Statement I wrote for the debate, and passed out as a flyer. (I actually quickly wrote extemporaneously a shorter, more biographical statement for the stage, more like the ones the other candidates were giving.)

Race and policing, the cost of the drug war in the District, were well covered by two of tonight’s sponsoring organizations.  The Washington Lawyer’s Committee released a report last July on “Racial Disparities in Arrests in the District of Columbia.” and the ACLU released a June report on “The War on MArijuana in Black and White,” -- two reports that showed that African Americans are 8 times as likely to be arrested in DC for marijuana possession as whites.  This is actually twice the national disparity, where on average blacks are only 3.7 times a likely as others to be arrested.  And marijuana arrests, and the racial disparity in arrests, both increased in DC between 2001 and 2010.  Odd given that in a recent national poll D.C. residents were rated the most liberal electorate in the nation.

Our electorate is why the ruling political class seems to be on the verge of decriminalization marijuana possession in DC.  Though most of our governing class, with one exception who is here tonight, want to keep a $100 fine for smoking pot in public.  And it will still be illegal to grow it or sell it.  And the other half of the drug war - all the other substances the government wants to tell you you can’t buy or put in your body - will continue.  And as long as this is true, we can suspect that African Americans will still be arrested at 8 times the rate of everyone else.

But worse than that, for everyone, of every race, we will still see black market related gang violence.  And young D.C. residents, badly served by public schools and our over regulated local economy, will still be enticed to go into dangerous black market drug sales as the only way to get ahead, and so they will end up in prison.  The small steps D.C.’s political class has been taking, following, not leading, several other states, are not enough.  They won’t end prohibition, black market profits, gang violence, and lives ruined by prison time.

Voting for me, and for our nearly full slate of Libertarian candidates, for a party that has supported decriminalizing all victimless crimes, ending the drug war, freeing the incarcerated, and expunging their records, is the best way to signal our Democratic incumbotacracy that you will not put up with their slow pace any longer!

Bruce Majors, Libertarian for Mayor

twitter @BruceMajors4DC

1 comment:

  1. The DC Council will be voting on legislation today Tue 4 March 2014.

    This bill will continue to justify the arrest and criminalization of the poor, #BlackMenAndBoys, Latinos, et al for non violent drug offenders if they are caught using outside. No one wants to breathe second hand smoke in public spaces, but making criminal arrests and 1-60day stint in jail is not the answer. A simple citation, fine and referral to drug rehabilitation program and treatment is the answer. This should be a sufficient deterrent for all non violent drug related crime. The police will still be involved, but we avoid the astronomical costs for tax payers of processing non violent drug cases that can be handled more cheaply and efficiently by compelling users to seek health care as a solution. Jail, prison and criminal sentences are not the solution to drug addiction.

    Current policies will result in perpetuating racist "Jim Crow" era laws against African Americans, Latinos, other minorites and the poor.

    Locking People Up for Public Marijuana Smoking Is Not the Answer

    "I do not want the public smoking of marijuana around my kid -- I do not." D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson recently spoke these words as Councilmembers met to consider legislation that would end arrests for the possession and use of small amounts of marijuana. "I dare say that I'm not alone as a parent," Mendelson continued, "feeling strongly that way."

    Chairman Mendelson cited this concern as justification for continuing to arrest people in the District for using marijuana in public. Many Councilmembers agreed and voted to retain criminal penalties for the public consumption of marijuana. This motion set aside plans by the Council that would have ended arrests for public marijuana use and alternatively punished people caught smoking in public with a $100 civil fine. Police officers would have continued the practice of seizing any marijuana found in public.


Pranav Badhwar for Ward 6

Pranav Badhwar for Ward 6
Pranav Badhwar for Ward 6

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