Marvin Scott’s loss of life in jail following his arrest for hashish use is putting the spotlight on Texas, and on the truth that medical hashish sufferers and Black persons are unfairly focused by the police within the United States.

Marvin Scott was arrested in March of this yr over a misdemeanor possession quantity of lower than two ounces of hashish. He was taken to the hospital for allegedly appearing erratically, however was then taken to jail, the place he died. Scott was 26 years previous.

Following this incident, seven of the officers concerned along with his arrest have been fired as a consequence of their alleged involvement in his loss of life. Marvin Scott suffered from schizophrenia and, in accordance with his household, was experiencing an episode throughout his arrest. While no official trigger of loss of life has been launched, Scott was restrained in a mattress, pepper sprayed, and was compelled to put on a “spit mask” throughout his time in jail. Some have speculated that the trigger of loss of life was suffocation, though this has not been confirmed by the authorities and consultants engaged on this case.

“He was using [marijuana] to self-medicate after being two years diagnosed with schizophrenia,” Lee Merritt, his household’s lawyer, defined. “Here, in a largely white area [in Allen, Texas], [Marvin Scott] stood out. He wasn’t even given the benefit of the doubt as someone who needed to go to a medical facility.”

Marvin Scott, Racial Discrimination, and Cannabis Arrests

According to Merritt, a civil rights activist, racial profiling and discrimination performed a component within the arrest. Black of us are 3.64 instances extra more likely to be arrested than white folks for hashish, in accordance with an American Civil Liberties Union research, although each teams use the substances equally. In the state of Texas particularly, Texas NORML reviews that Black persons are 2.6 instances extra more likely to be arrested for hashish possession. 

“Nobody should be dying in a jail cell because they had plants on them,” stated Texas NORML Executive Director Jax Finkel.  “It reflects what we’ve seen a lot of across the country and in Texas.”

Texas NORML reviews that Black folks within the state make up virtually 30 % of all hashish possession arrests, as of knowledge collected in 2017. As the latest Black Lives Matter protests have revealed, these statistics stay constant all through the years and throughout the nation. 

“I don’t want to say that’ll make it a panacea and all of a sudden racial disparity will disappear because we know there’s more work to be done,” Finkel stated. “Cannabis is just one part of the conversation when we’re talking about social justice.”

While Merritt claims that officers have been performing some work to vary insurance policies and ensure issues like this don’t occur once more, he admits that there’s nonetheless much more work that must be achieved for issues to be equitable. “The [Dallas] chief of police has stated that he’s passing new policies so that if someone is found with as little marijuana as [Marvin Scott] was, the policy is not to arrest them,” Merritt stated. “This is an opportunity to address the disparities in marijuana policing and the consequences of that. The damage that the federal government has done with the war on drugs represents ongoing policies.”

As extra tales of racial injustice involving hashish to return to mild, the push for federal legalization, an finish to prohibition, and the expungement of legal information for individuals who have been charged and convicted with a cannabis-related crime features steam. At the very least, many within the United States are looking forward to the federal decriminalization of hashish, particularly since increasingly folks change into educated on the racist roots of prohibition. The subsequent few years will inform whether or not that dream can change into a actuality.

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