Part of that truth is that racial disparities have long existed within the U.S. criminal justice system, and an example of that is the disparate enforcement of cannabis criminalization against minority communities, Booker said in the Friday interview with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes.
“Right now, the data that we see from employment information all the way to marijuana laws—where [there is] no difference between blacks and whites for using the drug, but there was more marijuana arrests in 2017 than all violent crime arrests combined, and blacks were four times more likely to be arrested for it,” he said.
“These are data points that do not speak to the heart and the grievous realities that each one of those data points impact the lives of people who are being destroyed,” he said. People “can’t get a job, can’t get a loan from the bank for doing things that two of the last three presidents have admitted to doing.”
“There has to be people right now who are sitting at home watching this—they cannot allow their inability to do everything about the problem of racism in America to stop them from doing something more than they did in the last stretch since the last videotape captured what is a regular occurrence in America,” he said. “If you are not changing, then nothing will change in this country.”
The senator, who is sponsoring legislation to federally legalize marijuana with an eye toward social equity, is speaking to a point that several of his colleagues in Congress have made in recent days.