If you want to get a glimpse of what it’s like to be black in the context of the war on drugs, just consider what has happened to Sean Worsley, a black Iraq War veteran who suffered a traumatic brain injury as well as post-traumatic stress disorder.
Worsley lives in Arizona, a state that permits medical marijuana, which Worsley has been taking for years to alleviate his condition. He had a state-issued card entitling him to take marijuana for medicinal purposes.
As detailed in an article in the Washington Post, Worsley and his wife decided to visit relatives in the state of Mississippi. They made a big mistake traveling through the state of Alabama, where they stopped at a gas station. While filling his car with gas, the Worsleys were playing their car music loudly, which attracted the attention of a local cop. The Worsleys quickly granted his request to turn down the music.
At that point though the cop said he smelled marijuana. Not realizing that his medical marijuana card wasn’t good in Alabama, Worlsely innocently gave the cop permission to search his vehicle. Worsely explained that his marijuana was to treat his disabilities and showed the cop his Arizona medical marijuana card.
The cop explained that the card wasn’t valid in Alabama and proceeded to arrest Worsely. First time possession of marijuana is normally treated as a misdemeanor, but there is an exception: If the arresting officer thinks that the substance is for more than just personal use, he can charge as a felony, which is what happened here. Worsley has now been hit with a 5-year sentence in the Alabama state penitentiary.
Of course, none of this necessarily means that what happened here was motivated by racial bigotry in the state of Alabama. It’s entirely possible that that police officer and the sentencing judge were just enforcing the state’s drug laws and that they would have done the same thing to a white person.
But all the more reason for just ending the drug war itself. That’s not only a key to liberty and justice for blacks. It’s a key to liberty and justice for everyone.