Newark's New Mayor Wants to Decriminalize All Drugs…Maybe

Ras Baraka's comments on the drug war.


The mayor is a poet.
Moore Black Press

Over at Vice, Michael Tracey describes a conversation with Ras Baraka, the mayor-elect of Newark (and Amiri Baraka's son):

Mayor-Elect Ras Baraka claims to have looked out upon the beleaguered city and, after careful consideration, devised an ingenious remedy for its many ills.

"I think drugs should be decriminalized, period," he told me.

Yes, that would include crack, methamphetamine, and heroin. Perhaps not a policy position one would expect to hear promulgated in the context of a ferociously contested election marked by persistent fear of drug-related violence, but maybe there is something brewing in Newark.

Bold stuff. But…

Legalize it. Don't criticize it.

Puzzlingly, despite endorsing the concept of drug decriminalization, the victorious Baraka also hedged on the question of marijuana legalization per se. When asked for his view on the senate bill [to legalize possession of pot for adults], he equivocated, remarking obtusely, "If the people decide they want to go further, that's when they go further." It is a telling sign of the times in Newark that the winning candidate…would apparently be unwilling to voice a clear position on marijuana legalization while he claims to support systemic change to the entire drug-prohibition regime.

Make of that what you will, and keep your eye on New Jersey for further developments.