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California NAACP Supports Decriminalizing Marijuana

 SACRAMENTO – The California State Conference of the NAACP is announcing their unconditional support for the Control & Tax Cannabis Initiative 2010 which will be on the November ballot.

Alice Huffman, President of the California State Conference of the NAACP stated, “We are joining a growing number of medical professionals, labor organizations, law enforcement authorities, local municipalities, and approximately 56% of the public, in saying that it is time to decriminalize the use of marijuana. There is a strong racial component that must be considered when we investigate how the marijuana laws are applied to people of color. The burden has fallen disproportionately on people of color and on young black men in particular. According to the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, half of California's marijuana possession arrestees were nonwhite in 1990 and 28% were under age 20. Last year, 62% were nonwhite and 42% were under age 20. Marijuana possession arrests of youth of color rose from about 3,100 in 1990 to about 16,300 in 2008 -- an arrest surge 300% greater than the rate of population growth in that group.”

The NAACP contends that the War on Drugs has been a failure. The war has not been on drug lords but a war against young men and women of color with an overwhelming emphasis on arresting low-level drug offenders. Joining the NAACP at their upcoming press conference will be Stephen Gutwillig, California Director of the Drug Policy Alliance. The organization is releasing a racial arrest disparity study, “Targeting Blacks for Marijuana” that emphasizes the points that the NAACP has made. Mr. Gutwillig stated, “The findings in this report are a chilling reminder of the day-to-day realities of marijuana prohibition and the large-scale racist enforcement at its core. Racial justice demands ending this policy disaster and replacing it with a sensible regulatory system that redirects law enforcement to matters of genuine public safety.”

Huffman further stated, “We have empirical proof that the application of the marijuana laws has been unfairly applied to our young people of color. Justice is the quality of being just and fair and these laws have been neither just nor fair. “

Coming across country to join the California NAACP is Neill Franklin, Executive Director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. A long time advocate for speaking out for sensible drug laws, Franklin stated, “When I was a cop in Baltimore, and even before that when I was growing up there, I saw with my own eyes the devastating impact these misguided marijuana laws have on our communities and neighborhoods, and it's not just in Baltimore, or in Los Angeles; prohibition takes a toll on people of color across the country. This November, with NAACP's help, Californians finally have an opportunity to do something about it by approving the initiative to control and tax cannabis."

Huffman stated, “We, at the California NAACP advocate that what’s just is justice for us. Under the prophetic words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., ‘injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ It is our mission to eradicate injustice and continue the fight for civil rights and social justice wherever and whenever we can.”

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