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art by Favianna Rodriguez

Art by Favianna Rodriguez

“ Washing one’s hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral. ” – Paulo Freire, Educator


Here's the message we sent to our members. After you've read it, please add your voice.

Obama says pot is no more dangerous than alcohol -- so why do Latinos continue to be targeted for arrests?Rep. Hinojosa

Tell President Obama to remove marijuana from the schedule of illegal drugs!

Dear Friend,

In a recent interview, President Obama said that he's troubled by the fact that black and brown youth are disproportionately targeted for marijuana-related offenses. He even acknowledged that marijuana is not any more dangerous than alcohol, a substance that is regulated but not illegal.1

President Obama could easily solve the problem -- he can simply remove marijuana from the DEA’s schedule of drugs, effectively ending the federal government's failed war on the plant. This lone act would reduce states' incentives to target black and brown youth and greatly reduce the rate at which young men of color are imprisoned for minor drug offenses.2

Tell President Obama to help STOP the targeting of black and brown youth by law enforcement by removing marijuana from the DEA schedule of drugs.

The numbers of this racially-biased, failed War on Drugs don’t lie -- black and Latino people are targeted for marijuana arrests far out of proportion with the rates at which they use they use the drug. Nationally, white folks use marijuana at higher rates than African Americans or Latinos.3 However:

  • In 2013, 85% of marijuana arrestees in New York City were Blacks and Latinos, half of them being under the age of 21.4
  • Between 2006-08, young Latinos were arrested and prosecuted for marijuana possession at nearly triple the rate of whites throughout California,5 while blacks were arrested at much higher rates (sometimes 12 times the rate of whites!)6
  • Between 2009 and 2010, of the 47,400 arrests for marijuana possession in Chicago, 95% were Black and Latino.7

President Obama seems to genuinely care about the fate of boys and young men of color. He even launched a new program aimed at creating economic opportunity for them.8 But it fails to address the systemic problems that disproportionately imprison boys and men of color.

The President has reminisced about using marijuana as a youth in memoirs and interviews.9 Meanwhile, under his watch many other young brown and black youth today are targeted and arrested for exactly the same behavior. Obama has the opportunity to solidify a legacy that keeps youth who grew up like him from being trapped in an unjust legal system that isn’t as blind as we wish it was. Or he can continue to willfully ignore the fact that he can do something about it.

Tell President Obama to help STOP the targeting of black and brown youth by law enforcement by removing marijuana from the DEA schedule of drugs.

Thanks and ¡adelante!
Arturo, Roberto, Jesús, Erick, Erica ,Refugio and the rest of the Presente.org Team

P.S. Can you donate $5 to support our work? We rely on contributions from people like you to see campaigns like this through.

1. Going the distance. The New Yorker, Jan. 27, 2014.
2. "Driven By Drug War Incentives, Cops Target Pot Smokers, Brush Off Victims Of Violent Crime." The Huffington Post, Nov. 21, 2011.
3. "When It Comes To Illegal Drug Use, White America Does The Crime, Black America Gets The Time." The Huffington Post, Sep. 17, 2013.
4. "More Whites Smoke Weed, But NYC Spent $440M Targeting Blacks and Latinos." Diversity Inc, Jan. 27, 2014.
5. "Arresting Latinos For Marijuana in California." Drug Policy Alliance, October 2010.
6. "Arresting Blacks For Marijuana in California." Drug Policy Alliance, October 2010.
7. "The Grass Gap." The Chicago Reader, Jul. 7, 2011.
8. "Obama launches ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ to help young minority men." Yahoo! News, Feb. 27, 2014.
9. See Reference 1.