Marijuana use in New Mexico and throughout the United States seems be generally accepted. Stories have appeared this month alone on the Today Show, Marie Claire magazine, Variety, and even Forbes depicting marijuana use in relatively favorable light. Forbes described the medical marijuana trend as a step toward the end of prohibition.
Many of our top political figures including Bill Clinton, Barak Obama, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Arnold Schwarzenegger and even George W. Bush have admitted to smoking marijuana in the past. Yet more than 750,000 people are arrested every year on charges of marijuana possession. New York, where the mayor has admitted past marijuana use, leads the way with 40,000+ arrests each year.
The fact that law enforcement and prosecutors continue to bring these cases at great costs to taxpayers, and often catastrophic costs to the defendant, is disappointing to put it mildly. More disturbing, however, is the racial component of the arrests.
Though Anglos smoke pot at higher rates than blacks or Latinos, and make up the majority of the United States population, the great majority of those arrested for marijuana are black or Latino. In New York, called the marijuana arrest capitol of the world, blacks and Latinos are 87% of those charged.
Most possession charges fall in the misdemeanor category. Though misdemeanor possession my seem to some like a trivial criminal matter, marijuana is stilled considered a controlled substance. Possession of a Controlled Substance in New Mexico carries very serious consequences well beyond the penal consequences.
The trend toward medical marijuana and what Forbes describes as the end of prohibition cannot move fast enough for those unfortunate enough to be arrested for what is pretty well accepted by all a harmless act.