Pubdate: Tue, 25 Nov 2008
Source: Diamondback, The (U of MD Edu)
Copyright: 2008 Diamondback
Author: Benjamin Kubic
Bookmark: (Incarceration)
Bookmark: (Racial Issues)
Note: Benjamin Kubic is a junior government and politics and operations
management major.


I have seen many arguments for racial equality in almost all aspects
of society, but last Tuesday's column by Students for Sensible Drug
Policy's Irina Alexander was the first argument I have ever seen for
racial equality in imprisonment. Ms. Alexander argues that the only
possible reason that a disproportionate number of blacks are in jail
for drug-related crime is either police corruption or racial
profiling. She misses the obvious third possibility: Blacks could
actually commit a disproportionate number of drug-related crimes. A
disproportionate number of white executives have been arrested for
fraud; would Ms. Alexander argue that the FBI should pick up some
Asians to balance out that inequality?

I have no doubt there is some racial profiling in drug law
enforcement, and the issue should be dealt with aggressively, but that
does not make the crime committed by drug offenders any less serious
or deadly.

Ms. Alexander argues marijuana is absolutely harmless, a ploy by the
government to hold down minorities. Overwhelming evidence suggests
otherwise. In Canada, crime syndicates sell marijuana and use the
proceeds to support "weapons ... trafficking, cocaine smuggling and
stock market fraud," according to Interpol. Both the Spanish and
French governments have found that the proceeds from cannabis sales
have gone directly into the pockets of groups affiliated with
al-Qaeda. The group responsible for the March 2004 bombings in Madrid
that killed 191 innocent civilians bought their explosives using money
from marijuana sales. Another such group used the drug money to fund
two bombings in Algiers that killed 30 people and injured 200.

Other drugs are even more closely linked with death. Every day in
Afghanistan, our soldiers face rocket launchers, roadside bombs and
AK-47s that were purchased with proceeds from opium poppy sales. In
Colombia, drug lords kill farmers who fail to produce enough.

Ms. Alexander also dismisses the idea, without evidence, that
marijuana use incites violence. When Great Britain downgraded cannabis
to a class C felony, youth use of the drug jumped between 25 percent
and 75 percent in different parts of the country almost immediately.
Crime rates also increased, as many new users began stealing to fund
their vice; in one town, Sheffield, 25 percent of cannabis users
turned to crime only after the reclassification occurred. As The
Guardian reports, 50 of the 51 youth courts in England wrote to the
home secretary asking him to upgrade the drug back to a class B felony.

Environmentalists should also be concerned with marijuana use. To
avoid border-crossing issues, many drug cartels grow marijuana in U.S.
national parks. To meet demand, these cartels use weed and bug sprays
that have been banned in the United States because of how they
devastate the surrounding environment; ABC News reports that the areas
of national parks where the marijuana is being grown are "the most
polluted pockets of wilderness in America."

Proponents of a more lenient drug policy argue that legalizing drugs
would eliminate the crime and violence associated with the illegal
activity; as in the Great Britain example above, this is clearly not
true. The violence in other countries would continue just as it does
now, maybe even more so, as demand increases and warlords battle over
drug fields.

Just because your high doesn't harm you does not mean it doesn't lead
to the deaths of others. While that may sound extreme or melodramatic,
the evidence shows it to be true. Should racial inequalities in drug
policy be dealt with? Absolutely. The government should make the
punishment for crack and powder cocaine equal - and much more severe.
It's time SSDP realized that the main problem with drugs is not the
effect on the user but the corruption and violence along the supply
chain that delivered the drugs. The next time you roll that joint to
get a short-term high, think about the long-term suffering that has
been caused by the delivery of that marijuana to you.

Benjamin Kubic is a junior government and politics and operations
management major.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin