NAACP Joins Pot Legalization Effort

Argues application of current laws unjust

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    SAN FRANCISCO - JULY 25: Staarla Heaney holds a small bowl of marijuana at the San Francisco Patients Cooperative, a medical cannabis cooperative, July 25, 2002 in San Francisco, California. A San Francisco city supervisor has drafted a proposal allowing voters in San Francisco to decide whether the city should consider getting into the marijuana growing business. Supervisor Mark Leno said he drafted the proposal because the Drug Enforcement Administration remains determined to close down clubs that distribute medical marijuana in San Francisco and other parts of California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

    The California branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People will release a report that it says reveals how criminalization of marijuana disproportionately harms people of color today.

    The release of the report comes as part of the NAACP's endorsement of the Tax Cannabis Act, a ballot proposition slated for November which would essentially decriminalize marijuana across the state.

    According to the NAACP, African Americans are disproportionately arrested for marijuana possession -- up to four times as often as whites, even though the latter is statistically more likely to be a user.

    "We have empirical proof that the application of the marijuana laws has been unfairly applied to our young people of color," State NAACP President Alice Huffman wrote in an official statement.

    A conviction for even misdemeanor drug possession is a permanent scar on employment applications, in child custody disputes and bars one from eligibility for federal college loan programs.

    Under the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010, as it's formally known, it would remain illegal for people under the age of 21 to possess marijuana, akin to underage drinking laws.

    The report will be released at a press conference in Sacramento, where the NAACP will be joined by fellow supporters of the initiative including Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, an organization representing current and former law enforcement officials from across the country which advocates for drug policy reform.

    Jackson West figures this will at least help counter any public perception that the bill's supporters are just a bunch of stoners.