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Article- Will We Learn From Colorado?

5/25/2016 12:00:00 AM

Proof that legalizing marijuana harms lower-income minority children

A report from the Colorado Department of Public Safety shows that arrests of black and Hispanic youths between the ages of 10 and 17 for marijuana charges has increased sharply in the two years since the legalization of the mind-altering drug in the Centennial State.
It's not racial bias on the part of law enforcement that is driving up minority arrests, but simple math.

Overall, arrests of minors for marijuana jumped 5 percent from 2012 to 2014, with minority youth accounting for the total increase. While whites saw an 8 percent decline in arrests, Hispanics saw a 29 percent jump in youth arrests - and black youth saw a staggering 58 percent increase.

It is easy to jump to conclusions about the numbers, as many pro-marijuana activists and lobbyists have done already. But the minority youth arrest increases are not because minorities are being targeted by law enforcement more aggressively than whites (although that argument conveniently plays well in urban areas, particularly in the tense aftermath of the Ferguson and Baltimore riots).

More logically - and more truthfully - minority marijuana-related arrests are higher because the same tactics that were used to promote alcohol and cigarettes so successfully are now being used by marijuana pro-legalization lobbies. It's not racial bias on the part of law enforcement, but simple math and a marketing plan that history shows is very effective.

Start in the lower-income communities of color, and work your way out.

"It's surprising that people haven't stopped to think about how the tobacco and alcohol industries work," Jeff Zinsmeister, executive vice president and director of government affairs for Smart Approaches to Marijuana. READ ARTICLE


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