By William Reed

If you’ve given "an Abe" for cannabis, cocaine or meth, then you are one too. Those five bucks joined a stream of money fostering the world’s illegal drug trade; the cultivation, manufacture, distribution and sale of substances subject to drug prohibition laws are estimated to be a $40 trillion market.

Consumption of illegal drugs is widespread globally. However, the single largest marketplace for illegal drugs is the United States of America. Close to 13 million Americans still think nothing of occasionally buying a gram of cocaine, a few hits of ecstasy, or a quarter-ounce of weed to have a good time. There are Americans with serious drug habits who regularly spend $100-$500 dollars a week purchasing their drug of preference.

Government studies say that 800,000 American adolescents, ages 12-17, sell illegal drugs. Young Americans of all stripes are involved in illegal drug activity, but America’s war against that trade has serious affects on young Black men. Blacks constitute 13 percent of all drug users, but are 35 percent of people arrested for drug possession; 55 percent of persons convicted; and 74 percent of people sent to prison.

"Everybody’s doing it", but the number of Black men who are behind bars and being channeled into permanent second-class citizenship status should be a cause for alarm. The illegal drug trade is producing long-term consequences and problems in societies worldwide; but an American tragedy is the disproportionate impacts of the drug war on Black males. Out of sight of "Colorblind" Americans, the War on Drugs subjects young Black men to conditions of life sufficiently destructive enough to amount to an instance of genocide. Based on current rates of incarceration, an estimated 7.9 percent of Black males compared to 0.7 percent of White males will enter prison by the time they are age 20. And 21.4 percent of Black males versus 1.4 percent of white males will be incarcerated by age 30. Blacks (28.5%) are about six times more likely than Whites (4.4%) to be admitted to prison during their life. Black family-life is being destroyed. African American children are nine times more likely to have a parent incarcerated than White children.

The genocide of young Black men is like shooting ducks in a pond. The high arrest rates for African Americans reflect a law enforcement emphasis on inner city open-air markets where drug use and sales are likely to take place. The drug war has been brutal among Blacks, but those who live in integrated communities have little clue to the devastation being wrought. The American War on Drugs has been waged almost exclusively in poor communities of color, even though people of all colors use and sell illegal drugs. Young Black males are definitely getting the shaft in the War on Drugs; and due to the lack of public attention continue being subjected to disabling conditions that restrict their opportunities, inflicts pain and suffering and shortens their lives. The rate of drug admissions to state prison for Black men is 13 times greater than the rate for White men. The average federal drug sentence for African-Americans is 49 percent higher than for Whites. Rates of drug use or drug selling are no greater for members of minorities than for nonminorities, yet minorities are stopped, searched, arrested, prosecuted, and incarcerated at far greater rates than Whites.

Steps should be taken to rid our communities of this genocidal activity. In America’s multi-billion dollar illegal drug trade Blacks are simply street-level pawns. If legit employment opportunities were as frequent for them as White youth, the criminal number would be equal. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than half of Black males between the ages of 16 and 19 are unemployed; fewer than 14 in 100 young Black men actually have jobs.

Let’s remove the yoke of the War on Drugs from around our necks. Tell every lawmaker you see that legalizing drugs will save $48.7 billion per year in government expenditure on enforcement of prohibition. America can save money by legalizing some drug sales and ceasing processes that destroy young Black men.