Weed Versus the People

After a century of advocating equal rights and tolerance in the United States, it is intriguing that with every passing era we discover new people and cultures to replace those whom we have so valiantly sought to defend. Where “immigrants” and “negroes” were targets of discrimination during the early 20th Century, we now project our fears onto terrorism and drug cartels. Women once had no right to vote, and now homosexuals find themselves fighting not only for the right to marry, but also for the right to defend the very country that rejects this right. The hypocrisy is obvious, yet accepted, without any opposition or remorse from the vast majority. There is a trend of perpetual ignorance that has stained America’s history since its very beginning and it will continue until we, as a people, reestablish the core principles and values that inspired this country and interpret them in a manner that makes sense in the modern world.

The prohibition of marijuana is a prime example of one such perpetual war. Where alcohol prohibition failed miserably, resulting in a period of increased crime and abuse throughout many demographics, affecting individuals with both criminal and non-criminal backgrounds,[1] marijuana prohibition presented a more opportune target – the poor. With a vast majority of low-income communities made up of minorities and immigrants, the negative fall-out could be contained to a more unique demographic, overwhelmingly associated with the popular fears and misconceptions of the era. The same holds true today, where more than 60 percent of low-income communities are primarily of minority decent.[2] If you compare these statistics to those presented in the NAACP’s Misplaced Priorities Publication titled “Over Incarcerate, Under Educate,” you will see an astounding similarity with the percentages of minorities incarcerated for drug-related crimes. If the same statistics hold true for people of white ethnicity, it would be safe to assume that the prohibition against marijuana relates directly to social disparity as opposed to a racist agenda (with that agenda being a smoke screen to the truth).

In fact, research has shown that with rising unemployment rates and a faltering US economy, there has been a steady rise in the low income demographic composed of people of white ethnicity. This rise in demographics also reflects the rising percentage of whites imprisoned for drug-related crimes. [3] The same statistics hold true for those who suffer from lack of health care, for those on unemployment, those without an education or those who suffer from mental/physical disabilities. All of these stigmas related to racial inequality are also predominant in white families that share the same low level of income. However, my intent is not to belittle the obvious problems of racism, prejudice and inequality that plague our society, but merely to point out that the true nature of the problem transcends race, color and ethnicity.

Now, if you take into consideration that the largest demographic of the US populace is made up of low- to no-income families, then you can begin to see the big picture. This is a vast demographic that doesn’t care about foreign policy, tax breaks or corporate agendas. These are people who care about health care, school systems, jobs and community. They cannot better their lives through minimal tax savings or inadequate health systems. Increased or decreased military spending will not help feed their families or pay their mortgages. As Mitt Romney demonstrated during his 2012 presidential campaign, this is not a demographic that the average politician holds in high regard, as the people in it are far removed from the issues that are important to the hidden corporate agendas that oil the governmental machine. In fact, this demographic, whether black or white, is overwhelmingly viewed by conservatives and liberals alike as a parasite on an industrialized civilization. In short, the politicians don’t really want you to vote at all.

Luckily for them, the majority of that 47 percent demographic doesn’t vote. Why is that? Is it because so many of the political issues represented during the primaries hold no relevance to those in the low-income demographic? Is it because the demographic is preoccupied by cries of racism and inequality, leaving them blind to the fact that they share common issues? Could it be due to the overwhelming percentage of that population not even having the right to vote, due to previous criminal records or imprisonment for crimes associated with the numerous perpetual wars that an out-of-touch government has perpetrated on its people? I’m certain that there are many underlying reasons for such a mass exodus from participation in the current political system; however, we as a people need to reverse the trend.

There is a reason behind these perpetual wars, but the reason is never clear. What is clear is that these wars have no end. How does one define an end to the War on Drugs or the War on Terrorism? It cannot be done. What these wars are truly used for is to limit or take away our constitutional rights. They are used to strip the people of their freedoms and liberties. They are nothing more than fear tactics, used to undermine our founding fathers and everything that they stood for or fought against. Don’t be fooled into fighting an imaginary war; fight the war that those founding fathers fought. Fight for your right to prosper and make your own communities what you – not the politicians – want them to be. Participate in your communities, attend your town’s council meetings and take part in every election – not just the presidential campaigns. Let your voice be heard, for the gravest of mistakes to be made right now is silence.