For iPhone users: [audio http://ioneblackamericaweb.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/lemon0123.mp3%5D
The President is talking about something that’s got a lot of people fired up.
Or at least that’s the concern that a lot of people will fire up a big joint, a spliff, a doobie or a bowl after hearing what President Obama has to say about marijuana.
In an interview with “The New Yorker” magazine Mr. Obama says he believes marijuana use is no worse for smokers than alcohol is for drinkers.
That’s a pretty bold statement from any politician, especially a sitting president.
Many are now taking his comments to mean that using pot is okay and that it should be legalized for recreational use around the country just like alcohol.
That’s a big leap and not exactly what the president said.
In fact, he said marijuana should not be used recreationally and says he’d even discourage his own children from using it.
However the president – who has admitted to smoking pot when he was young- also took aim at politicians who throw pot smokers behind bars when they probably experimented with marijuana themselves.
He weighed in on incarceration rates for those caught smoking weed, saying quote, “Middle-class kids don’t get locked up for smoking pot, and poor kids do.”
The American Civil Liberties Union backs up the president’s comments and more.
They issued a report last year which shows African Americans are four times as likely as whites to be arrested for marijuana, despite similar rates of use.
Nick Gillespie, the pro-marijuana editor-in-chief of Reason.com writes, “I hope that President Obama’s recent comments on marijuana legalization augur the beginning of the end of the drug war, which causes for more disruption in the black community than the sort of overt racism Martin Luther King fought against.”
Let me paraphrase, Gillespie is saying that the discrepancies in marijuana sentencing is more detrimental to the black community than outright racism.
Why, because those discrepancies send young black men to jail for longer periods and more often than any other demographic.
That discrepancy also adds to the statistic that half of all black men in the U.S. are arrested by the time they’re 23.
Those arrest experiences and records can set the course for the rest of their adult lives.
No one is saying that people, no matter the color, who are breaking the law, shouldn’t be arrested.
However, the means by which they are considered for arrest should be equal.
So, after the president’s comments were published, the White House began backtracking a bit, trying to blunt some of the criticism Mr. Obama is getting.
Press Secretary Jay Carney said the President’s position on legalizing pot has not changed.
That may be true, but let’s hope Mr. Obama’s position on having equal arrest qualifications for all groups of people is what will gain more traction than whether or not he thinks smoking pot is okay.