Pubdate: Thu, 16 Jan 2014
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2014 Shaleen Title
Author: Shaleen Title
Note: One of three letters


In the Jan. 12 Outlook commentary "If you're white, feel free to smoke
up," Stacey Patton and David J. Leonard say they are "not ready to
celebrate the most recent moves to decriminalize marijuana" in
Colorado because some states have decriminalized (but not legalized)
marijuana but still have disparate rates of incarcerated black men.

Users caught with marijuana are often issued civil fines or ordered to
undergo treatment. In some jurisdictions that have decriminalized
marijuana, police will arrest users on technicalities, such as the
presence of paraphernalia, and those arrests often disproportionately
affect people of color.

Colorado's law is the first legalization law in the nation. Before it
passed, there were 10,000 marijuana possession arrests in Colorado
each year. Now anyone age 21 or older can purchase, possess and
privately use marijuana free of interference by the police. This also
means police cannot claim the smell or view of marijuana in order to
racially profile.

Instead of criticizing the voters of Colorado, Ms. Patton and Mr.
Leonard should commend them for taking a step in the right direction.

Shaleen Title, Revere, Mass. The writer is a board member of Marijuana
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