Is Teenage Marijuana Use a Capital Offense?

By Todd A. Smith

            I was sitting in a ninth grade science class when the classroom discussion shifted to teenage marijuana use.  One of my classmates, who happened to be White, stated that everyone at our high school had experimented with marijuana use in the past.  When I said I hadn’t, he looked shocked.

            While I had not fallen victim to teenage marijuana use or alcohol abuse, I had a couple of character flaws that they probably did not have.  Nevertheless, I do not remember any of my peers or elders ever once imply that anyone of us deserved to die because of our flaws and imperfections.

            However, many George Zimmerman supporters and Trayvon Martin critics are using his suspension over marijuana as a means to paint him as a troubled teenager who got what he deserved.  It is funny how we all quickly forget our teenage years and the mistakes we made.  But for Martin, his awkward teenage years where many are still trying to find themselves and figure out life, were “criminal offenses” that somehow warranted a death sentence.

            The truth of the matter is Martin was no perfect child and no one is or was.  And regardless of his disciplinary problems, he deserved to mature into the man that God had planned for him to be, not be struck down by someone who believed that he was the god of the neighborhood.

            According to several reports, Martin was suspended for having traces of marijuana in a plastic baggie in his backpack.  The teen was serving his suspension while visiting his father Tracy Martin in Sanford, Fla. when he was gunned down by Zimmerman who claims he killed the 17-year-old in self defense.

            His family acknowledged the reason behind the suspension and say that the information was leaked in an attempt to assassinate Martin’s character.

            “They killed my son and now they’re trying to kill his reputation,” his mother Sybrina Fulton said to reporters.

            The cowards who leaked this information owe an apology to Martin’s family for leaking private information.  And the people who believe that teenage marijuana use is a sufficient reason to kill a teenager owe all Americans an apology, especially to those who have lost loved ones to senseless teenage violence.

            With their rationale, I guess the victims of the Columbine High School massacre in 1999 deserved to die because the killers said that they had been bullied and were deemed outcast at school.

            I guess everybody involved in a schoolyard fight growing up deserved the same fate as Martin as well.

            The truth of the matter, whether it is teenage marijuana use or some other vice, every human being has character flaws and imperfections.  However, not one of us that are still breathing was killed by someone else as a result of those flaws.

            The movement for justice has started the battle cry, “I am Trayvon Martin.”  Now more than ever, every American regardless of race, can rightfully say that they are Trayvon as well.  We all made mistakes as teenagers and young adults that we are not proud of.  Whether it is teenage marijuana use or alcohol abuse, all of us have dabbled in areas that we should not have gone.  However, none of those mistakes is a justification for murder.

Smith is publisher of Regal Magazine, a publication dedicated to the African American community.

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