What Will Obama Do About Marijuana?

As support for legalization grows, he has choices to make that could keep many blacks out of prison.

(Continued from Page 2)

The nation is addicted to its own practice of high incarceration, and the prison industrial complex is too deeply entrenched in the broader economy. Obviously, monitoring the illegal trade of hard drugs like cocaine and heroin must remain a priority for any civilized society, but perhaps a progressive movement that decriminalizes marijuana -- which proponents say is less harmful than alcohol -- could be the beginning of a new era in drug-control policy.

President Obama's challenge is twofold: to focus explicitly on a problem that disproportionately affects African Americans -- his most loyal constituency -- without appearing to be motivated solely by race. Considering the damage already done, the risk is worth the reward.

Edward Wyckoff Williams is contributing editor at The Root. He is a columnist and political analyst, appearing on Al-Jazeera, MSNBC, CBS Washington and national syndicated radio. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.

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