The Weed Industry Is Booming, But Many Sit In Jail For Possession

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In 2017, the legal marijuana industry made nearly $9 billion in sales in the U.S. alone. By 2021, that number will have more than doubled to $21 billion. Not only that, but marijuana business owners are estimated to owe $2.8 billion in taxes to the federal government by the end of 2018.

Meanwhile, at least 137,000 people in the U.S. are behind bars for drug-possession charges. More people were arrested in 2016 for marijuana possession than all violent crimes that year combined. And in 2014, black people were nearly six times more likely than their white counterparts to be in prison for drug possession.

Vincent Southerland is the executive director of the Center on Race, Inequality and the Law at the New York University School of Law. But before that, he was a public defender for years.

“You know, I can’t remember having a white client who had been arrested for a marijuana offense, and I was a public defender for about a total of five years. White and black people and Latino people all use drugs at about the same rate. And so really what we’re talking about is the problem of enforcement and policing. … All my clients who had been arrested for marijuana offenses were black or Latino, and the overwhelming majority of those clients who were arrested for marijuana offenses were not arrested for the sale or distribution but were instead arrested for mere possession — the simple possession of marijuana,” Southerland said.

In April, former House Speaker John Boehner said he’d join the board of Acreage Holdings, a cannabis investment company, saying his thinking on legalization had “evolved.”

In response, Southerland co-wrote this op-ed in The New York Times calling for …read more

Source:: Newsy Headlines


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