| By Contributor Jay Pade |

An open letter to Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey:

With 2017 behind all of us, the path that lies ahead is dark. For many people, this past year was tumultuous, to say the very least. It was a year of riots, of chaos. It was a year of an election that brought out both the worst and the best of Americans. Thus I believe I speak for all of us at Next Generation Politics when I say that we want 2018 to be a year of hope. 2018 should be a year of new and better beginnings for everyone.

I’m aware several letters come across your desk similar to this. However, I want to discuss a pressing concern of mine — particularly, the War on Drugs. For decades the U.S. government has put all drug users behind bars often for longer than it would put rapists and murderers. Yet, drugs such as cannabis have various positive uses more than surmounting the “amount” of damage it has caused recreationally, which arguably is none. That being said, the vast amount of minorities disproportionately affected by the War on Drugs is alarming, especially when it is considered that this drug is used in roughly equal amounts by all races. When this fact is combined with the understanding that once within the prison system, a criminal becomes almost “institutionalized,” meaning that it is likely they will return to prison resulting in the resources of taxpayers going to prisons and not the schools it could be going to, the entire notion of a “War on Drugs” becomes a “War on Americans” who are hurting, and in pain.

Rehabilitation and decriminalization would go a long way towards increasing the American employment rate and setting an example in our state for the rest of the nation to follow. With such a precedent set up, the marijuana aspect of the War on Drugs could be reversed. Additionally, with this mindset of rehabilitation, the state could prevent itself from turning into a system that creates an institutionalized convict factory that ends up soaking up massive of state income, and become a beacon of hope for a better future for countless Americans, of a rehabilitation that includes job training and thus enhancing the workforce.

The War on Drugs is cost-ineffective and severely hampering the income the state could receive if it began legalizing and regulating this substance. Let New Jersey set a precedent for the nation. Let New Jersey be a beacon of what a better America looks like.

For the Next Generation,

Lajaywon Lapade

This letter was edited by Contributor and Editor Mateo Portelli