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Anti-Marijuana Groups Are Arguing That Legalization Will Hurt Minorities

Anti-marijuana groups make a lot of dubious claims in their arguments against cannabis legislation. They've pushed the "Gateway Drug" theory, they've made incorrect claims about the marijuana addiction and they've implied that crime and violence increase as a result of legalization. None of these are true, but that doesn't stop them from pushing them. But an anti-legalization group is making a new claim that's just as nonsensical: That legalization will hurt minorities.

Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) is an anti-marijuana advocacy group that's recently spoken out against New Jersey Senator Cory Booker's bill that would legalize cannabis. Kevin Sabet, SAM's chief executive, claimed that legalization would particularly hurt minorities. In an interview, Sabet claimed that state's with legalized marijuana actually had higher rates of incarceration of minority teens than states that did not. This is actually a common argument being put out by anti-marijuana groups, and it's false. The truth is that drug arrests are down significantly in states post-legalization than pre-legalization. He went on to say that marijuana-related traffic deaths are also up, which has not been found in any studies of states with legalized weed.

Sabet continued by saying that legalizing marijuana would prevent the construction of institutions that could improve the community. He said, "I bet [residents of New Jersey] would rather have libraries and schools than pot shops." Of course, this argument largely ignores the millions of dollars in tax revenue states with legalized marijuana generate, much of which is re-invested into the education system. 

SAM claims they want to prevent the commercialization of the marijuana industry and to protect the unfortunate from being exploited. However, they largely push the same anti-cannabis arguments made my every other organization. If Sabet and his organization really want to protect the people from evil marijuana corporations, they wouldn't be advocating for workplace drug testing that only punishes the consumer, not the supplier.

It's unfortunate that an organization that claims to be looking out for minorities is actually advocating against policies that would protect and help those individuals. That's what we like to call "hypocrisy."


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