In a letter to the editor, Union City resident Hector Oseguera is calling on all Hudson County residents to vote yes on legalizing marijuana, one of the referendum questions in the November 3rd election being contested primarily via vote-by-mail ballots.
We take the illegality of cannabis as a given, but it has not always been this way. Federal
criminalization of marijuana goes back to Harry J. Anslinger, a virulent racist who once said:
“There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the U.S., and most are Negroes, Hispanics,
Filipinos and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing result from marijuana use.
This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers
and any others.”
This view may have been prevalent once, but the world had changed tremendously.
The criminalization of cannabis has not prevented one person from consuming it, as many
of Hudson County’s residents know. Nor will its legalization lead to a flood of new users.
The only thing criminalization accomplishes is the needless incarceration of mostly Black
and Hispanic men.
Teenagers of all races consume cannabis at similar rates, yet Black and
Hispanic children are more often subjected to the criminal justice system for their cannabis
In 2014, there were more Black men in prison, jail, on probation or parole than were
enslaved in 1850.
From the vantage point of its racist creators, the War on Drugs was a spectacular success, but from a humanitarian standpoint, it is a disgrace and an ongoing crisis.
Drug use increased and prohibition made drugs more profitable, incentivizing local gangs
and international cartels to engage in violent drug trafficking. Furthermore, individuals in the grips of addiction need mental health and social services, not jails or incarceration.
Meanwhile, public sentiment on cannabis use has shifted significantly. Many now view
cannabis as much less deadly than alcohol and tobacco use, which kill thousands each
year in drunk driving deaths, alcoholism, and cancer.
Even many of those who do not engage in cannabis consumption are sick of seeing Black and Hispanic bodies sacrificed to the brutal and inhumane prison-industrial complex.
This shameful legacy should be relegated to the ash heap of history. That is why I am asking every Hudson County voter to turn their ballot over, and vote Yes on Public Question 1.
Hector O. Oseguera Jr., Esq.
Union City resident