The enforcement of the criminalization of marijuana is and always has been racist, full stop.
In the 1930’s, the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics Harry Anslinger proclaimed that “Marihuana influences Negroes to look at white people in the eye, step on white men’s shadows and look at a white woman twice.”
Flash forward to today, when arrest data analyzed by the ACLU finds that Black Americans are 3.6 times more likely than white people to be arrested for marijuana, despite usage rates being consistent between the two groups.  I’ll repeat, the criminalization of cannabis is and has always been racist.
We’re never going to be able to solve America’s problems if we don’t strike at their very root. And the 118th House of Representatives, despite making progress in the previous session of Congress, still have not committed to address the criminalization of cannabis. Many won’t even acknowledge the racist roots behind marijuana law.
Nearly every day this year, we have seen headlines like “Ron DeSantis Wants to Erase Black History. Why?”  or “Alabama Schools Cancel Black History Month Event With Award-Winning Author” . The forces of white supremacy are working every day to white-wash our history and deny our country the ability to have an honest conversation about our problems. We have to fight back and demand laws and reforms that call racism by its name and work towards equitable solutions. And it’s on our representatives in the House to pick their side.
I have been working on cannabis policy reform for nearly a decade now, and one of most inspirational rallying cries I have ever heard has been from an activist in Georgia named Sharon. Sharon would regularly declare that “when we are talking, we are winning.”
And it’s true. We cannot “win” and “fix” the system if we do not talk about what is really wrong with it—its racist roots.
As Black History Month begins, join us in using your voice to call out racism where you see it. Send a letter to your representatives making sure they know about the racial history of and disparity in marijuana arrests and call it out loud and clear.
This one message won’t alone settle the debate, but when thousands of us stand together to demand reform, we will not go unheard.
 ACLU: A Tale of Two Countries: Racially Targeted Arrests in the Era of Marijuana Reform
 Ron DeSantis Wants to Erase Black History. Why?
 Alabama Schools Cancel Black History Month Event With Award-Winning Author