11-19-2017  7:55 pm      •     
MLK Breakfast
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NEWS BRIEFS

SEI, Sunshine Division Offer Thanksgiving Meals to Families in Need

Turkeys are being provided to fill 200 Thanksgiving food boxes for SEI families ...

NAACP Portland Monthly Meeting Nov. 18

Monthly general membership meeting takes place on Saturday, 12 - 2 p.m. ...

Multnomah County Animal Services Waives Adoption Fees Nov. 17

Special runs from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday ...

Fitzpatrick Presents 'Pathway 1000' Plan Before City Council

Plan would restore involuntary displacement by building 80 homes per year ...

Sisters Network to Hold Monthly Meeting Nov. 11

Meeting to take place Saturday morning at June Key Delta Center ...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

OPINION

Local Author Visits North Portland Library

Renee Watson teaches students and educators about the power of writing ...

Is the FBI’s New Focus on “Black Identity Extremists” the New COINTELPRO?

Rep. Cedric L. Richmond (D-La.) talks about the FBI’s misguided report on “Black Identity Extremism” and negative Facebook ads. ...

ACA Enrollment Surging, Even Though It Ends Dec. 15

NNPA contributing writer Cash Michaels writes about enrollment efforts ...

Blacks Often Pay Higher Fees for Car Purchases than Whites

Charlene Crowell explains why Black consumers often pay higher fees than White consumers, because of “add-on” products. ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

ENTERTAINMENT

Black people being arrested for marijuana convictions
Allison Dumas Special To The Skanner News

Although black and white Oregonians use marijuana at the same rate, in some communities in Oregon, blacks are arrested for marijuana possession at more than three times the rate of whites Image courtesy of BlackonBlackPolitics.wordpress.com

Our current approach to dealing with marijuana in Oregon is failing us. Nowhere is it more apparent than in our communities of color.

African-Americans are more than twice as likely as whites to be arrested for marijuana possession in this state. It’s not because one race uses marijuana more than the other. It’s because of special scrutiny from police engaged in the war on drugs.

Growing up in a bi-racial family, I’ve seen both worlds firsthand. My mother, a white middle-aged woman, was never stopped or searched by the police. My father and brother, both African-American men, were stopped regularly. The excuses were always the same. “It looks like your taillight is out,” or “We got a complaint from the neighbors that there was a suspicious person in the neighborhood.”
One time my brother was stopped and searched, as he had been many times throughout his life. Unfortunately he had a tiny amount of marijuana on him, no more dangerous than a six-pack of beer. He was charged with basic possession. Yet, he spent three months in jail for a misdemeanor charge that was supposed to be a ticket. The run-in cost him his career. After dedicating himself for years writing government contracts, he lost his job.
My brother’s story is like too many others. A conviction for possessing a small amount of marijuana follows you when you apply for a job, or a loan, or try to secure housing. It pops up on every background check.
Although black and white Oregonians use marijuana at the same rate, in some communities in Oregon, blacks are arrested for marijuana possession at more than three times the rate of whites. If you can believe it, the rate nationwide is even worse, 3.73 times. These arrests, for something which should not be considered a crime, are doing irreparable damage to the economic future of a generation of young black people.
Arrests for possessing a small amount of marijuana feed into a larger rift between communities of color and the police. Regulating pot to sell in reputable establishments, making it available to otherwise law-abiding citizens, and removing the stigma of these arrests can go a long way in healing that mistrust.
That’s why I am working to win a new approach to marijuana. In fewer than 100 days, Oregonians will have the opportunity to vote yes on Measure 91 to tax, regulate and legalize marijuana.
A victory would be more than simply winning sensible drug policies. It will deal a big blow to the illegal drug trade and violent drug cartels, and the tax money raised will go in part to schools. It will raise money to care for those suffering from dependency of more harmful drugs.
When the War On Drugs began more than 40 years ago, only 12 percent of Americans supported regulating, taxing and legalizing marijuana. Now poll after poll shows growing support for this common-sense treatment.
This is an overdue conversation, and it is important that we are heard now. It is time for a new approach, Oregon.


Allison Dumas is a recent graduate from Lewis & Clark College.

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