the first time, Missouri voters will be voting on legalizing medical
marijuana. There are three ballot measures, each very different in
its approach to who controls the process to who gets to benefit from
the medical benefits.
first encounter with pot was in college. It may come as a surprise
but I never saw drugs being used or sold in my working-class
community. Therefore, my parents never gave me the “Just say
No!” speech. It was 1968 and I was on my way to becoming a
self-proclaimed Black radical. I wanted no parts of a mind-altering
drugs. No smoking of anything, not even inhaling. I needed to be
then it’s been challenging for me to develop a reasonable
position on marijuana. I’m all for de-criminalizing it but I
always stop short on supporting legalization. I suspect Missouri
voters will inevitably be faced with a ballot initiative on
recreation marijuana. This is where my imagination goes to zombie
my view needs to evolve, it will require help from my readers. Here
are the issues I am struggling with.
the arguments I’ve heard over the years that marijuana is not
as harmful as other drugs, that it’s a natural plant (so is
deadly Oleander!), it has definite negative effects on the brain and
body. In exchange for that nice high, the short-term results are
increased heart rates, lowered blood pressure, distorted perception
and loss of coordination. Long-term use leads to loss of memory, risk
of lung ailments and loss of bone density. There’s a reason - I
often tell people - that marijuana is prescribed to people with
are abusive, and they are deep into self-medication abusing
prescription drugs, alcohol and everything in between. I foresee
medical weed being over-prescribed by doctors as they have done with
the widespread use of pot, are you comfortable that your surgeon
didn’t enjoy a blunt before surgery on your heart? Or that a
pilot didn’t hit a spliff before take-off? Or that your
mechanic didn’t roll a joint before s/he worked on your brakes?
decades, Black and Brown folks were hauled off to prison for long
periods of time for possession of weed - regardless of the amount.
Blacks were arrested and convicted more than twice the rate of whites
in the Show-Me State despite comparable usage.
year, the cannabis industry brought in $10 billion dollars and the
profits are expected to escalate. Business is booming yet Black
entrepreneurs and Black farmers can’t seem to catch a break.
Racism and lack of capital are the main barriers. African Americans
own a measly one percent of the 3,500 marijuana dispensaries in the
U.S. Growers and the related businesses are locked down by white
I can’t wrap my head around Girl Scouts selling cookies outside
a marijuana shop. One scout in San Diego sold a record 300 boxes in
less than 6 hours. For this former Girl Scout and eternal child
advocate, something is just wrong with that picture.
states have legalized medical marijuana. Nine states and Washington,
DC have legalized recreation marijuana that require no doctor’s
permission. Now people can grow, distribute and possess in states
where the drug is legal in the state. Yet pot is still illegal on the
federal level. I can see some continued racial targeting with this
I wrong to envision a society where pot and opioid users and abusers
will run amuck causing chaos and confusion, maybe even deaths? What
is a Black radical position on drugs in a land where Black folks
always get the short end of the stick. Most times, we get the whole
stick - across our heads.