HIGH TIMES has reported that the latest Gallup poll shows that 45 percent of Americans admit to having tried marijuana and 12 percent of Americans admit they are current marijuana consumers.

That means that there are roughly as many tokers in America as black people.

The latest U.S. Census estimates of Americans claiming to be black or African-American is 13.6 percent of the population, as of 2016.

Now, try and imagine that 62 percent of American companies put signs up in their windows saying “We Are a Black-Free Workplace.” Imagine that part of your workplace application was a “brown paper bag test” to determine if your skin was light enough to work there.

You can’t, really, because we have strict laws now that prevent companies from discriminating in employment based on an employee’s body’s melanin content.

But more than 3-in-5 American companies can openly and proudly discriminate in employment against 1-in-8 American citizens because of their employee’s body’s marijuana metabolite content.

You may think that comparison is unfair and offensive.

Sure, both melanin and metabolites are benign molecules that in no way determine whether an employee is trustworthy and capable, but black people didn’t choose to be black and being black at no time indicates impairment. People with marijuana metabolites chose to introduce those into their bodies and at some time were impaired from doing so.

Fair enough.

Pot smokers did make a choice to become pot smokers. So, let’s look at another demographic of choosers: the religious.

According to the Pew Research Center, people in the United States who are religious, yet don’t belong to Catholic or Protestant traditions, make up 10.7 percent of the population.

Yet, if 62 percent of American companies were refusing to hire Mormons, Jews, Muslims or Buddhists, there would rightfully be a huge scandal and some high-profile lawsuits.

But none of those people were born that way.

Yes, they may have been born into families with those traditions, but as adults, they have made a conscious choice to continue in their beliefs. They’ve chosen to live their life a certain way, and we protect their right to employment. We’ll even make accommodations in dress code, working hours and performed duties to allow them to express their religious traditions at work!

We, marijuana choosers, however, don’t get such accommodations—even when the marijuana choice is embedded in the religious choice, like Rastafarianism or Coptic Christians. America is so anti-pot, we let our hatred of it trump our love of the First Amendment’s protection of religious practice.

I’m not arguing to allow tokers to have regular cannabis smoke breaks on the job, even though medical consumers ought to be allowed the same latitude workers on Oxycontin are given.

I’m merely arguing that any job discrimination that keeps 1-in-8 Americans permanently consigned to second-class citizenship is un-American.

Previously in Radical Rant: Massachusetts Copies Oregon’s Separate-and-Unequal Pot Compromise
Click here for all of Russ Belville’s columns.

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