The California National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) filed initiative language this week for marijuana legalization in California. It’s my understanding that the California NAACP does not intend to run a campaign itself, but is filing the initiative as a kind of ‘road map’ of what the organization would like to see in a marijuana legalization effort in California. There are multiple legalization efforts in California right now (as expected), but the one that seems to be getting the most traction is ReformCA. I could be wrong since I don’t live in California, but that’s what it seems like to me based off of my conversations with leading cannabis advocates. Below is an excerpt of the California NAACP initiative, via East Bay Express:
Despite having some of the strictest cannabis laws in the world, the United States has the largest number of cannabis consumers. The percentage of U.S. citizens who consume cannabis is double that of the percentage of people who consume cannabis in the Netherlands, a country where the selling and adult possession of cannabis is allowed.
According to The National Research Council’s recent study of the 11 U.S. states where cannabis was decriminalized, there is little apparent relationship between severity of sanctions and the rate of consumption.
Cannabis has fewer harmful effects than either alcohol or cigarettes, which are both legal for adult consumption. Cannabis is not physically addictive, does not have long term toxic effects on the body, and does not cause its consumers to become violent.
There is an estimated $15 billion in illegal cannabis transactions in California each year. Taxing and regulating cannabis, like alcohol and cigarettes, will generate billions of dollars in annual revenues for California to fund what matters most to Californians: jobs, health care,
schools and libraries, roads, and the rebuilding of the urban core.
California wastes millions of dollars each year targeting, arresting, trying, convicting, and imprisoning non-violent citizens for cannabis related offenses. This money would be better used to combat violent crimes and. gangs, provide health services for the addicted, investigate, interdict, and prosecute, major drug traffickers.
The illegality of cannabis enables the continuation of an out-of-control criminal market, which in turn spawns other illegal and often violent activities by drug lords profiting from illegal sales and addiction to support domestic and foreign criminal enterprises .. Establishing legal, regulated sales outlets would put dangerous street dealers and drug lords out of business which would once again make urban communities a safer place to reside.
The war on drugs has not targeted the major foreign producers and importers but rather has disproportionately targeted poor and minority recreational cannabis users in urban communities, resulting in criminal records imprisonment, and financial penalties not imposed upon cannabis users in majority communities, and resulting in a cycle of unemployment, poverty, family breakup and other disparate impacts on minority citizens including criminal records.
I’m very hopeful for California’s efforts in 2016. I have had a lot of conversations with people lately about California, and how 2016 will probably be a make or break point for California efforts. California has already failed once this decade to pass an initiative that made the ballot, and 2016 is far more favorable of a political environment compared to 2010, so California definitely has a chance. Marijuana legalization is way, way overdue in California. California should have been the leader on legalization, as it has been on so many other social issues including medical marijuana. But if everyone can’t get on the same page in California, it’s going to be very difficult to pass a legalization initiative there in 2016.