What BuzzFeed’s Article on Racism in Law Enforcement Means for Minority Cannabis Users

It’s no secret that racism continues to disproportionately affect minority cannabis users, sellers and growers in prohibition states. Now, with Buzzfeed recently publishing a collaborative article with Injustice Watch, exposing the severity of racism in law enforcement, it’s become more important than ever to expose and fight these issues within the industry.

After a surveillance video of a liquor store clerk pulling a gun on a suspected robber surfaced on Facebook, paired with violent and disrespectful comments from Philadelphia police officers, Buzzfeed and Injustice Watch decided it was time to make their voices known.

Among the cases noted are a South Carolina police officer who posted a photo in Confederate flag boxers just days after a white supremacist killed nine black churchgoers, and a Chicago police officer who took to Facebook to state, “Every Thug Deserves a Slug.” The Plain View Project, examining accounts of officers across the country, found that one in five current officers has been found online “displaying bias, applauding violence, scoffing at due process, or using dehumanizing language.” That’s right, 20 percent.

Although not completely shocked by these numbers due to the lack of consequences for overly aggressive law enforcement, the severity of the bigoted and racist comments has struck a chord of utter disgust and disappointment. While officers continue to spread hate without consequences, those civilians who are continuously faced with inequality are forced to question this injustice in silence.

Making matters so important to the Emerald, though, are these findings reflecting on the disproportionate enforcement of cannabis laws in the prohibition states. While we know that minorities and residents of impoverished neighborhoods continuously bear the brunt of policing, this fact is even more heightened when it comes to cannabis laws. According to research by the ACLU, despite roughly equal usage rates, blacks are 3.73 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana. And while it’s easy to interpret increasing legalization as a sign of progress, billions of dollars have already been wasted on racially biased arrests.

While a former Baltimore police officer argues that these posts may just be expressions of recognition of the dangerous field in which they work, comments alluding to minorities as savages and animals present something much more serious.

How can one be expected to respect and feel protected by authorities who continue to diminish and unjustly stomp on them?

Emerald contributor since June 2019

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