If I could go back and change one thing about this speech it would be to place greater emphasis on the idea of privilege and the need to use that privilege to enact change. Enact it for all those who do not have the opportunity to lobby for change on their own due to fear of repercussions from their family, their jobs, etc etc. My overarching goal here is not to campaign for the legalization of recreational marijuana in California this November (though I do have my fingers crossed that will be the case) but to argue that there are many groups being disproportionately penalized for engaging in activities that white/privileged individuals cavalierly participate in on the daily.
According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons over 50% of inmates in federal prisons are there for drug offenses, and Kathleen Miles at The Huffington Post broke down that between October 2012 and September 2013, 27.6 percent of drug offenders were locked up for crimes related to marijuana. Some of those locked up for marijuana-related offenses deserve to be there, the crimes they committed were part of a larger threat to others around them. Many, I would argue most, were participating in an act no worse than anything I’ve done – possessing marijuana. Except I’m white, and I had $60 in cash to pay for 5 minutes with a weed doctor in exchange for a “medical marijuana card” and I can afford to choose an employment position that doesn’t do drug testing.
The Economist is right, legalize and regulate it already. A key step to making that happen? Normalization. All those privileged individuals (like me) need to take a page out of Chelsea’s book and talk about it like the everyday thing it is for them. Many people I know will talk about it one-on-one, but wouldn’t dare mention it on Facebook (though they’ll talk about booze all the live long day whenever opportunity strikes). Normalization gets us one step closer to getting high on vacation (no matter what state we visit), and, on a more serious note, changes the futures of many who live in spaces and places and realities where the sort of fun I indulge in on the regular can ruin a life.
Agree? Disagree? The space for comments is the Living Absolutely Facebook page.