“It is time to put our sentencing policies in line with our values, reduce penalties for nonviolent, low-level drug offenses so we don’t put people in prison who need drug treatment,” Emanuel said in a statement his office will release publicly Tuesday. “It doesn’t make sense that one arrest for a very small amount of a controlled substance can lead to a lifetime of struggles, sending people in and out of prison and putting up barriers to getting a job or finding a place to live. We need action from Springfield.”
The District’s black residents, who now account for half its population, once opposed marijuana legalization, partly out of fear it could lead to addiction among black youths. But as new studies have suggested otherwise, that attitude has evolved. One study last year showed that blacks account for nine out of 10 arrests for simple drug possession in the District, while another showed that was the case even as usage likely varied little among races.