On the one hand, marijuana is practically legalâ€”more mainstream, accessorized, and taken for granted than ever before. On the other, kids are getting busted in the city in record numbers. Guess which kids.
This article in New York Magazine by Mark Jacobson is quite a colorful trip through the marijuana scene in New York, from the arrests of people of color, to the delivery services to the wealthy.
He starts with the global scene as it exists today.
Could it be that, at long last, the Great Pot Moment is upon us?
The planets are aligning. First and foremost is the recession; thereâ€™s nothing like a little cash-flow problem to make societies reconsider supposed core values. The balance sheet couldnâ€™t be clearer. We have the so-called War on Drugs, the yawning money pit that used to send its mirror-shade warriors to far-flung corners of the globe, like the Golden Triangle of Burma and the Colombian Amazon, where theyâ€™d confront evil kingpins. Now, after 40 years, the front lines have moved to the streets of JuÃ¡rez, where stray bullets can easily pick off old ladies in the Wal-Mart parking in El Paso, Texas, even as Mexico itself has decriminalized pot possession as well as a devilâ€™s medicine cabinet of other drugs. At the current $40 billion per annum, even General Westmoreland would have trouble calling this progress.
Jacobson does a few taste tests around the city and analyzes the pot today compared to when he smoked it years ago. He knows that strides have been made in pot development over the years, but isn’t impressed (particularly compared to all the reefer madness stories).
This was because the fancy weed I was smoking, and paying twenty times as much for, wasnâ€™t getting me more smashed, at least not in the way I wanted to be.
â€œI hear this a lot, because back then, you were probably smoking sativas imported from Jamaica, Vietnam, and Mexico,â€ Danko informed me. Sativas imparted â€œa head high,â€ as opposed to the largely â€œbody highâ€ of indicas. The problem with this, he went on, was that tropical sativas, being a large (some as high as fourteen feet!) and difficult plant to grow (the Kush has bigger yields and a shorter flowering time), especially under surreptitious conditions, were rare in todayâ€™s market. My lament was a common one among older heads, Danko said, adding that â€œthe good sativa is the grail of the modern smoker.â€
Learn something new every day.
Then we turn to the arrests.
The fact is, New York City is the marijuana-arrest capital of the country and maybe the world. […] Harry Levine, a Queens College sociology professor who has been compiling marijuana arrest figures for years, says, â€œThe cops prefer pot busts. Theyâ€™re easy, because the people are almost never violent and, as opposed to drunks, hardly ever throw up in the car. Some of this has to do with the reduction in crime over the years. Pot arrests are great for keeping the quota numbers up. These kind of arrests toss people into the system, get their fingerprints on file. The bias of these arrests is in the statistics.â€
Not everyone, however, is getting arrested.
Francis said the cops werenâ€™t all that much of a factor. â€œFor the most part, I walk through the town unopposed.â€ But what about the busts?
I showed Francis a copy of the New York State marijuana-arrest stats. He couldnâ€™t believe it. He didnâ€™t know a soul who had been pinched. He was not, however, surprised by the ethnic breakdown. â€œI hate to say it, but thereâ€™s no way Iâ€™m hiring a black guy to work for me. The chances of a black guy getting stopped is about 50 times more than a white guy. I canâ€™t afford that. Fact is, pot is legal for white people but not for black people, which is total bullshit.â€