Something's in the Air : Race, Crime, and the Legalization of Marijuana book cover
1st Edition

Something's in the Air
Race, Crime, and the Legalization of Marijuana

ISBN 9780415842402
Published August 13, 2013 by Routledge
190 Pages

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Book Description

America’s drug laws have always exerted an unequal and unfair toll on Blacks and Latinos, who are arrested more often than Whites for the possession of illegal drugs and given harsher sentences. In this volume, contributors ask how would marijuana legalization affect communities of color? Is legalization of marijuana necessary to safeguard minority families from a lifetime of hardship and inequality? Who in minority communities favors legalization and why, and do these minority opinions differ from the opinions held by White Americans? This volume also includes analyses of the policy debate by a range of scholars addressing economic, health, and empowerment issues. Comparative lessons from other countries are also analyzed.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Ending a War or Just California Dreamin’?; Katherine Tate, James Lance Taylor, and Mark Q. Sawyer 1. Criminal Justice Costs of Prohibiting Marijuana in California; Jonathan P. Caulkins and Beau Kilmer 2. Public Health Considerations in the Legalization Debate; Chyvette T. Williams and Thomas Lyons 3. The Paths Not (Yet) Taken: Lower Risk Alternatives to Full Market Legalization of Cannabis; Robert J. MacCoun 4. Why Did Proposition 19 Fail?; J. Andrew Sinclair, Jaclyn R. Kimble and R. Michael Alvarez 5. Winds of Change: Black Opinion on Legalizing Marijuana; Katherine Tate 6. The Highs and Lows of Support for Marijuana Legalization among White Americans; Paul Musgrave and Clyde Wilcox 7. Building Minority Community Power through Legalization; James Lance Taylor 8. The Latino Politics of Proposition 19: Criminal Justice and Immigration; Melissa R. Michelson and Joe Tafoya 9. No Half-Measures: Mexico’s Quixotic Policy on California’s Proposition 19; Nathan Jones 10. The "Chronic" and Coercion: Exploring how Legalizing Marijuana Might Get the U.S. Government off the Backs and Throats of Americans (or, not); Christian Davenport

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Katherine Tate is Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Irvine. She is the author and coauthor of several books, including most recently, What’s Going On? Political Incorporation and the Transformation of Black Public Opinion.

James Lance Taylor is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Politics at the University of San Francisco. Taylor is the author of Black Nationalism in the United States: From Malcolm X to Barack Obama.

Mark Q. Sawyer is Professor of African American Studies and Political Science at UCLA. He is the author of the award winning book, Racial Politics in Post Revolutionary Cuba, and co-editor of Just Neighbors?: Research on African Americans and Latino Relations in the United States.


"The racial injustices of the current war on drugs have received a lot more attention than the racial implications of policy reform. Something's in the Air: Race, Crime, and the Legalization of Marijuana is an exception. Focusing on marijuana policy, the contributors offer solid empirical investigations and a critical discussion of alternatives. This book is well-timed – change is in the air regarding marijuana policy. This collection, by taking nothing for granted, will encourage better drug-law policy making."

—Doris Marie Provine, Arizona State University and author of Unequal under Law: Race and the War on Drugs

"This is a rare volume, one that pulls together a broad array of perspectives and data on what is a highly contentious and contested issue. This volume highlights the complexities involved in legalization of marijuana, connecting this issue to areas related to the legalization of 'sin,' e.g. prostitution and gambling, as well as other areas of public life and policy such as education, which are confounded by race, class, and gender issues. This volume does not aim to resolve this debate, instead its purpose is to shed light on the competing actors and dimensions of the question, and this it does admirably."

—James S. Jackson, Director of the Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan

"Something’s in the Air is an indispensable collection of essays providing trenchant analysis of the cultural politics of marijuana legalization in California—the very site where the decades long War on Drugs is perhaps beginning to unravel."

—Travis Linnemann, Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice, Old Dominion University