The War on Drugs... or the War on Youth?

An article in came out last week exposing yet another reason why the War on Drugs in the U.S. is so problematic. Besides the disproportionate number of people of color who end up in jail on drug charges, the incredible amount of military and financial aid given to countries like Mexico and Colombia in the name of the so-called war, not to mention the violence committed against people in this country and around the world, there is yet another result of this faulty endeavor: 74% of all people arrested on marijuana charges in the U.S. are under the age of 30. 
Young people, in many cases those under 18 years of age, disproportionately bear the brunt of marijuana law enforcement.
Demographically speaking, the above statement is a "no-brainer." Yet this is hardly a fact that we as a reform community like to admit or emphasize. Instead, you'll hear reformers argue that the war on pot is a war on patients -- and at some level, it is. Or you'll hear advocates proclaim that marijuana enforcement disproportionately impacts African-Americans and Hispanics -- and to some degree, it does. Attend enough of these conferences and you'll inevitably hear that our movement needs better representation from women and minorities, both of whom face unique hardships because of the drug war, and that criticism is appropriate too. But, one thing you'll most likely never hear is that our movement needs greater involvement from teenagers and young adults.
But we should -- because for the young people in the audience, the war on pot smokers is really a war on you.
According to a 2005 study commissioned by the NORML Foundation, 74 percent of all Americans busted for pot are under age 30, and 1 out of 4 are age 18 or younger. That's nearly a quarter of a million teenagers arrested for marijuana violations each year. To put this bluntly, we now have an entire generation that has been alienated to believe that the police and their civic leaders are instruments of their oppression rather than their protection.
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1 comment:

  1. Anonymous5:35 PM

    Yet another clear indication that the war on drugs should be abandoned. I recently read an article that some Central and South American countries are considering doing just that, but a search today turned up only articles from years ago. Guess the issue has been on the table a long time.


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