Politics

Black Community Going Up in Smoke? Why African Americans Are Addicted to Smoking Weed

Wed., Nov. 9, 2011 11:11 AM EDT
by Torrance Stephens

If you didn’t know, substance abuse is a major problem in minority in communities, in particular African American communities. One of the most popular drugs consumed by African Americans is marijuana. After a decade of decline, marijuana use has steadily increased in America. Research notes substantial increases among adolescents and young adults across the nation.

The problems associated with marijuana use tend to be more prevalent among the youngest age groups. Nearly 75 percent of children and teens (12- to 17-year-olds) who used marijuana on 12 or more days in the past year experienced significant problems related to use. The question is why marijuana use among African American teens is escalating, and what risk does increased use pose for African Americans.

Many users fail to see marijuana use as a major criminal act. However, it is a different story with regards to law enforcement and the criminal justice system. We must always be aware of the racist elements in the “war on drugs” and its relationship between young black men and police forces. Singularly responsible for large numbers of black men being imprisoned, the inordinate rates of arrest and incarceration of people of color are mainly the result of drug law violations.

In California for example, in each of the 25 largest counties in California, African Americans are arrested for marijuana possession at higher rates than whites, often two and three times higher, although U.S. government studies consistently find that young blacks use marijuana at lower rates than young whites. In Los Angeles County, with nearly ten million residents, African Americans are arrested at more than triple the rate of whites, while accounting for less than 10 percent of L.A. County’s population.

More important than these disparities is that Marijuana possession arrests have serious consequences and create permanent drug arrest records, that can be easily found on the Internet by employers, landlords, schools, credit agencies, licensing boards, and banks.

So what is the reason smoking marijuana is so popular? It has always been so throughout history and among various cultures. But unfortunately, it is being used to add to the rising number of people, particularly young people of color, arrested on marijuana charges each year. It is a sad reality for us as a community, given that an 18-year-old convicted of a felony is most likely at the end of the road for a productive future.                              –torrance stephens, ph.d.

Follow Stephens on his blog http://rawdawgb.blogspot.com/ or https://twitter.com/rawdawgbuffalo

 

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  • Bill

    Get real marijuana is glorified by certain so called stars in the community. The same ones who can buy their way out of trouble, but leave a wake of souls that destroy their long term potential with criminal records that prevents them from competing for any meaningful employment or place in society. .

    • gloria

      I agree with Bill. They can’t even pass a drug screen for employment much less a background check.

    • Uncle Chuck

      But why are we OK with this and fall for the same okie-doke every time? Are we really THAT stupid or is there something else going on that we’re missing?

  • MeauxCreole

    The article doesn’t say anywhere in it why AAs are addicted to smoking weed.  It doesn’t even offer any information about stopping or what to do if your teen is smoking weed.  This was a useless article and a misleading  title.

  • Anonymous

    This story is a sad truth. America needs to change the law concerning the possession of marijuana. It should not have the harsh penalties and peoples lives should not be railroaded because you may smoke a little weed. There are more serious crimes being committed in America’s communities and having weed on you shouldn’t be one of them.

    Young folk you need to make it happened. Get out there and voice your opinions and create the world that you want to live in! Don’t let folks like Newt Gingrich, Rick Santroum, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Rick Perry or the likes to hoodwink you into thinking that prisons are the answers to our social problems. For if we take a look at the prison system today, you can see it is a HUGE FAILURE and way to expensive to MAINTAIN!

    Those tax dollars being spent to keep people incarcerated could be going to modernize our schools and providing every child across this nation with an outstanding education. So don’t let these conservative dogs ROB you of your lives!

    Take it back by voting and running for elected office in your community. Don’t leave it all up to the nerds. Cool people can govern too! In fact, they tend to make life better for the majority and not the few!

  • H

    Marijuana is not addictive. This is just a silly attempt to blame the issues that certain ethnic cultures have on a plant