In light of the national and international outrage over the unjust killing of George Floyd, Boston Globe cannabis reporter Dan Adams called into Boston Public Radio on Wednesday, where he discussed the historic tie between pot use and America’s racist justice system.
“One of the most common reasons police use to stop [Black people] has been, historically, the odor of marjuana, or planting marijuana– right? It’s one of the most common pretenses for police to get involved with people, to search your pockets, to search your car, to check for warrants,” he said.
Adams noted staggering racial disparities in Massachusetts marijuana arrests, even after the drug was legalized in 2016.
“We’ve got the lowest overall marijuana arrest rate in the country, but the racial disparity within those arrests is truly appalling,” he said. “If you look at the ACLU data … Blacks are still four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession in the state.”
Adams said Floyd’s death, and the outrage that’s followed, serve as a reminder for white Americans of how racism permeates our nation’s legal system, and why it’s crucial for state governments legalizing cannabis to enact and follow through on measures that support Black-owned marijuana businesses.
“Watching [the George Floyd protests] unfold as a cannabis reporter has been really striking, because I deal all the time with the history of the drug war, and there’s a direct connection between what’s going on with everyone on the streets… and an idea that we’ve talked about on this show a lot, which is this whole idea of equity in cannabis licensing,” Adams said.
“The basic idea from the legislature is ‘hey, maybe we shouldn’t let white guys from Wall Street make all the money off this thing, now that we’ve decided it should be legal — and maybe never should’ve been illegal,’ after decades of throwing people of color in jail for it.”
Adams is the cannabis reporter for the Boston Globe and author of the “This Week in Weed” email newsletter.