Regarding Edward Davenport's letter expressing concern over the impact marijuana legalization will have on the African-American community ("The cons of legalized marijuana," Jan. 17), he fails to understand that the current prohibitionist policy is the most damaging of all.

It has become increasingly clear that marijuana prohibition is a modern day form of legal discrimination. Maryland has one of the highest marijuana arrest rates in the country, and African Americans are three times as likely to get arrested for simple possession. They are targeted at dramatically higher rates than whites, thereby introducing a disproportionate number of people of color into the criminal justice system. These arrests have saddled tens of thousands of Maryland residents, a majority of whom are young male minorities, with lifelong criminal records — severely limiting their employment opportunities — a crucial component to sustainability and social advancement. These communities have been destroyed by the war on drugs, and we as a society have a moral obligation to end this punitive, wasteful and disastrous policy.

Sabrina Fendrick, Washington

The writer is founder and coordinator of the NORML Women's Alliance.

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