White people of all ages have long been able to use marijuana legally, at least if they were careful. Outgoing mayor Michael Bloomberg regrets that he quipped that he had enjoyed pot, yet his frank flippancy did offer a beacon of truth about enforcement of anti-drug laws. White people, even before they become billionaires, usually get off fairly easily for drug use, if they are detained at all. Cases in point are celebrities and their offspring. Google Lindsay Lohan and Cameron Douglas, who got into serious trouble only after their flouting of laws became too egregious and too well documented to ignore.
If Ramarley Graham, whom police shot dead by his grandmother’s toilet early in 2012, had been Bloomberg’s white child, he would have known he had little to fear from New York City police, who probably would not have charged into his dwelling without a warrant and slaughtered him because, once they found themselves inside the house, they decided he was armed. Turns out, the reason the 18-year old fled was because he did have a small amount of marijuana, but no gun. In a note worthy of a Dickens novel, the officer who shot him was named Haste. A Bronx grand jury declined to bring charges again the officers.
In this Yuletide season, there come a ray of hope that this will be less likely to happen in future. State Senator Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan) has introduced legislation to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana under state law along lines similar to the state’s current system regulating alcohol. A spokesman for Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared her move a “non-starter” but many legislators are working to see it pass. The fact that this is politically risky is clear enough to cut through any smoky haze, as is the fact that the war on drugs has been as constructive as the one Vietnam. Among the benefits of decriminalization are these: it would keep youth out of prison crime schools (this admittedly would not help upstate communities that depend upon prisoners from downstate); it would spare the lives of police who can be injured or slain in drug busts; it would preserve the characters of those corrupted by drug lords; and it would help taxpayers, if the $1.7 billion New York City pot industry were taxed. Recognizing the disaster of the drug war, Uruguay just took a innovative step. Alarmed that drug-related murders accounted for a third of total homicides in 2012, its legislators passed a bill to legalize marijuana and put its production and sale under government control and President Jose Mujica will sign it, a brave move since two-thirds of Uruguayans say they oppose it.
Organized crime around the globe is surely hiring lobbyists to fight Kruger’s bill right now.