The state of Arkansas recently released a report that indicates the officials recognize what two-thirds of the residents already see: prosecution of marijuana possession charges is a drain on the system with no benefit.
The Alabama Appleseed Center for Law and Justice and the Southern Poverty Law Center corroborated on a report titled “Alabama’s War on Marijuana,” released one day after Canada legalized marijuana countrywide. The report notes that the primary sufferer and the one more likely to serve jail time for marijuana possession is the African American male.
Studies show that African Americans and Caucasians are equally likely to use marijuana. However, in Alabama, African Americans are four times more likely to be arrested and charged for possession of the drug.
Meanwhile, the study showed that the state has spent $22 million on enforcing marijuana prohibition since 2016. That same amount of money could fund almost 200 additional classrooms, over 500 teachers or almost 700 additional law enforcement officers.
In another point of interest, the report pointed out that seven of the 50 law enforcement agencies who regularly charged individuals for marijuana possession were 10 times more likely to charge an African American than a Caucasian individual.
Concerns raised by the report include the fact that labs are consistently backlogged with the need to test drug samples, causing homicides and other cases to be delayed and the appearance of a single charge for marijuana possession seriously impedes the individual’s chances to work in the healthcare career field, for example. This is an area with a high demand for workers, which means the state is hindering its own efforts to have a sufficient healthcare workforce.
Meanwhile, areas like Tuscaloosa County have targeted businesses that sell CBD oil, despite the efforts to take the proper precautions and follow the correct process to become a vendor of these products. The West Alabama Narcotics Task Force is informing businesses of the law and providing them a chance to remove the inventory before it’s confiscated.
The hope is that new information like the report will help change the perspective of task forces and law enforcement agencies across the state, thereby saving money and redirecting efforts in a more effective direction.