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Racism And The War On Drugs

April 20, 2021

Selmah Mohammed Zaakani


In light of today being 4/20, the day recognized for marijuana consumption by the consumers, let’s take a look at the link between drugs and racism. In the 1980's there was a trend on the rise, it was cocaine. The party drug of choice for the wealthy. The Reagan administration didn’t see this as much of an issue until they realized this was an untapped market.

Soon enough, the US was flooded with drugs by Reagan administration to fund the Contra wars. These were United States-backed wars fought by right-wing groups in opposition to the Marxist Sandinista Junta of the National Reconstruction government in Nicaragua, following the Nicaraguan revolution.

Reagan was considered a drug dealer by Pablo Escobar himself who joked that Reagan sold more coke than him. These drugs ravished lower-class communities which were usually populated by African Americans and Latinos.

In 1982, Reagan ironically announces the “War On Drugs”. He declared many drugs included cocaine, marijuana, LSD, and ketamine a “ threat to national security”. These drugs became criminalized after the marginalized class of our society gained access to them. Hippies were stereotyped as pot smokers and black people were alleged crack smokers. His wife, Nancy even had a "Just Say No To Drugs" campaign while Reagan was the biggest alleged drug dealer at the time.

After the Reagan legislation was passed, local law enforcement agencies started arresting blacks and Latinos at alarming rates for possession. To this day, 60% of people jailed for drug possession are African American and Latino, while white people are opening dispensaries just blocks away from the White House.

Presently, many states are decriminalizing marijuana which means, if you are in possession of it, instead of receiving the usual misdemeanor, it is now a small fine.

Racism is weaved into the American society so deep that sometimes you don't even realize it. With more facts about the past coming to reality everyday, hopefully there will be a day in which racism is seen as the wrong thing among the majority of Americans.

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