When I first heard about this, I thought, “Oh man. Here comes a tidal wave of tasteless jokes,” and that’s probably true, but it’s an issue worth thinking about, anyway. The head of California’s NAACP chapter has come out solidly in favor of the state’s latest citizen marijuana legalization effort, Proposition 19. I’ll give you a paragraph break here to quickly run through the possible jokes you might hear on late-night talk shows soon.
Okay. Alice Huffman, head of the NAACP’s California State Conference, says there is such a racial component to this issue that she can’t stay out of it. I will admit, I probably wouldn’t have thought of this angle if she hadn’t spoken up. But it’s true, and the numbers bear it out. In several California counties, black people get cited for pot more than whites at anywhere from twice to four times the rate. Given the ubiquity of pot use in general, I’d say she’s got a point that can’t be ignored.
There could be myriad reasons for this numbers gap. I don’t know what they all would be, but we could start with the possibility that marijuana use is more open or public within the black community. It may or may not be, but it’s a possible contributor. In any case, it’s definitely an angle worth throwing into the discussion.