If you are a minority, you are much more likely to be arrested for a marijuana charge than your caucasian counterparts, even though usage rates are about the same. In some cities like St. Louis or New York City, you are up to 8 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana. Again, usage rates are about the same for all races. Arrest rates for marijuana by race highlight just how racist the policy of marijuana prohibition is.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) recently passed a resolution to support state’s making their own marijuana laws, not the federal government. If states like Colorado and Washington want to legalize marijuana, the federal government should step away from enforcement. This is a big move by the NAACP, because they don’t always support state’s rights due to the history of policies in some states, especially in the South.
“For obvious historical reasons, many civil rights leaders who agree with us about the harms of marijuana prohibition still remain reluctant to see the states chart their own courses out of the failed ‘war on drugs.’ Having the NAACP’s support for a states’ rights approach to marijuana reform is going to have a huge impact and will provide comfort and cover to politicians and prominent people who want to see prohibition end but who are a little skittish about states getting too far ahead of the feds on this issue.” Said Tom Angell, Chairman of the Marijuana Majority.
Below is a copy of the resolution’s language:
WHEREAS, as a result of the “War on Drugs” and mandatory minimum sentences imposed largely at the federal level, the prison population has exploded in the past few decades; and
WHEREAS, one crucial result of these misguided and misplaced policies has been the disproportionate over-confinement of racial and ethnic minorities: more than 60% of the people in prison are now racial and ethnic minorities; and
WHEREAS, two-thirds of all persons in prison today for drug offenses are people of color; and
WHEREAS, more than 700,000 people annually are arrested in the United States for the possession of marijuana; and
WHEREAS, even though numerous studies demonstrate that whites and African Americans use and sell marijuana at relatively the same rates, studies also demonstrate that African Americans are, on average, almost 4 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession, and in some jurisdictions Blacks are 30 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites; and
WHEREAS, there are also extreme economic consequences to the present day enforcement of marijuana laws; nationally, states spent an estimated $3.61 billion enforcing marijuana possession laws in 2010 alone; money that could be spent on education, job training, and other valuable services; and
WHEREAS, several states throughout the U.S. have departed from current federal law to develop more well-tailored and effective guidelines and sentencing ranges for small, low-level marijuana use which are moderating some of the more extreme federal policies and their repercussions; and
WHEREAS, these state laws are at times at odds with federal laws; and
WHEREAS, legislation has been introduced in the 113th Congress, H.R. 1523, with strong bipartisan support, which would prohibit the federal enforcement of marijuana laws in states which have lesser penalties.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP supports H.R. 1523 and encourages its swift enactment; and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the NAACP Washington Bureau shall contact Members of the Congress and urge the swift enactment of H.R. 1523.