Cannabis & Equal Protection Under Law

Here’s part of an editorial I thought would stimulate your mind.


This raises another question of federal law: equal protection. The 14th Amendment provides for “equal protection of the law” to all citizens, and it’s this provision that invalidated parochial state rules segregating schools and banning interracial marriage. The spirit of the amendment — ratified in the wake of the Civil War and a foundation of civil-rights-era legislation — is that states are not permitted to maintain their own race codes. When you map state marijuana laws against their black populations, there’s a clear inversion. States where there are larger black minorities have been less likely to liberalize their marijuana laws, which fits with the generally racist character of the drug war. Where there are exceptions, it’s not legalization but decriminalization, which gives the police discretion — never a recipe for equal protection. The way the law seems headed, federal and state governments will uphold a prohibition that criminalizes black citizens in an explicitly disproportionate manner.

Constitutional law is above my pay grade, but the president has no such excuse. He must know this latest game plan is a cowardly abdication. Unlike gay marriage, the federal government has already decided to take the ball on marijuana: The Gonzales of Gonzales v. Raich was U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. It remains in the government’s hands. If locking people up for a joint was a federal concern in 2005, then letting them go should be a federal concern in 2015. The Constitution should not be at the whim of political convenience. Equal protection is more than just the law; it’s a national ideal, and caging someone in Georgia for a blunt while letting the packed bowl in Oregon slide is a violation of that spirit.

You can read the entire editorial HERE.

[image: Google images “law”]

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Author: DavidB

a heathen, but hopefully not an unenlightened one

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