New York, NY — As jails fill up, families get torn apart, and otherwise entirely innocent people have their lives ruined by the state, politicians are finally coming to terms with the immoral nature of kidnapping and caging people for possessing a plant. The libertine function of the war on drugs has become so glaring that some politicians aren’t waiting on their states to legalize and they are now disobeying laws that throw people in jail for marijuana.
District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. out of Manhattan announced this week that his office will refuse to prosecute people for possessing and smoking marijuana.
Illustrating the powerful notion that change does not come from sitting idly by and rolling over—and that true change comes when good people decide it is time to break bad laws—Vance said that his office will stop prosecuting marijuana possession and smoking cases starting Aug. 1 except for a few cases involving “demonstrated public safety concerns.”
It is no secret that a marijuana conviction is a blow to individual freedom—even if you were lucky enough not to go to jail or have already gotten out. A drug conviction limits the ability for people to get a job, borrow money, or even find a place to live. This attack on freedom then leads to a function known as recidivism which limits an individual’s choices thereby fostering an environment which will lead to that person ending up back in jail.
What’s more, politicians are finally beginning to realize the problem the drug war presents to minorities as they find themselves victims to far more police brutality and harsher penalties in regards to drug enforcement despite using at the same rate as their white counterparts.
Congressman Ron Paul has been saying this for decades.
[Black peope] are tried and imprisoned disproportionately. They suffer the consequence of the death penalty disproportionately. Rich white people don’t get the death penalty very often. And most of these are victimless crimes. Sometimes people can use drugs and get arrested three times and never committed a violent act and they can go to prison for life. I think there’s discrimination in the system, but you have to address the drug war. I would say the judicial system is probably one of the worst places where prejudice and discrimination still exists in this country.
Even mayor Bill de Blasio is realizing it, saying at a press conference this week, that “we must and we will end unnecessary arrests and end disparity in enforcement.”
This idea is spreading too. After Vance came out with his refusal to prosecute people for pot, Brooklyn’s district attorney quickly followed suit and publicly stated that he would scale back prosecutions as well.
“The dual mission of the Manhattan D.A.’s office is a safer New York and a more equal justice system,” Vance said in a statement. “The ongoing arrest and criminal prosecution of predominantly black and brown New Yorkers for smoking marijuana serves neither of these goals.”
“We have got to continue to drive down the arrests,” De Blasio said Monday on TV station NY1. “We’ve got to look at other policy changes that will help us do that. I don’t accept disparity. I really don’t.”
Make no mistake, the only reason political blowhards like De Blasio are even considering this move is because of the pressure from the public. Americans are waking up to the atrocities carried out and the police state created by government waging war on what people can and cannot put into their own bodies and politicians are feeling the heat.
Also, the evidence is finally becoming to overwhelming to ignore. While the moves by these DAs to stop prosecuting marijuana crimes is certainly a good start, it does not go far enough.
New York should free every single person in prison right now who is rotting away over a pot conviction. They should be freed immediately and their records should be expunged.
Although this may sound extreme, other states like California and Washington—who’ve legalized marijuana—are making similar moves to right the wrongs perpetuated by decades of the failed war on drugs.
Thousands of Californians are getting second chances as politicians seek to undo the damage their immoral policy of kidnapping and caging people for using a plant has caused over the years.
The city of Seattle is also wiping the records of citizens it has prosecuted over the years for possessing a plant. In fact, as the National Conference of State Legislatures noted, “at least nine states have passed laws addressing expungement of certain marijuana convictions,” and in most of these states, “expungement measures pair with other policies to decriminalize or legalize.”
It seems that the war on drugs has finally begun to unravel. Politicians, desperate to end up on the right side of history, are now making the right moves to remedy some of the problems caused by this immoral war.
Unfortunately, however, as Jeff Sessions’ career illustrates, there are still plenty of dinosaurs in suits willing cage people for a plant. So, as we keep winning these battles, it is important to stay on point—because the war is still far from over.