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National Black Caucus Of State Legislators Calls For Liberalizing Marijuana Penalties

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director February 26, 2014

    Members of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators recently resolved at their Annual Legislative Conference in favor of decriminalizing marijuana.

    “Whereas state and local governments could potentially stand to save billions of dollars that they currently spend regulating marijuana use by decriminalizing the recreational use of marijuana, therefore be it resolved that the National Black Caucus of State Legislators recognizes the decision of the Administration to not challenge the choice made by citizens of these states, and urges the continued respect of state law, and encourages other states to consider decriminalization,” the Caucus resolved.

    It added, “[The] NBCSL supports the states’ authority to make a determination as to what age, at or above 18, qualifies as a “legal adult” who may purchase, possess, or consume marijuana [and] … urges the federal government to reduce the penalties associated with the use and simple possession of marijuana.”

    The 2014 resolution is LJE-14-40: Supporting States’ Rights to Decriminalize Marijuana Use.

    A 2013 report by the American Civil Liberties Union reported that blacks nationwide were approximately four times as likely as whites to be arrested for marijuana possession in 2010, even though both ethnic groups consumed the substance at similar rates.

    The National Black Caucus of State Legislators represents more than 650 African-American legislators from 45 states, the District of Columbia, and the Virgin Islands.

    36 Responses to “National Black Caucus Of State Legislators Calls For Liberalizing Marijuana Penalties”

    1. Ray Walker Jr. says:

      In the past I’d always taken it for granted that Medical Cannabis being legalized would sweep the nation first and Recreational Cannabis would follow. Now with so much support coming from all directions, I wonder what “right” will gain more constitutional support first. While reading LJE-14-40, this paragraph really jumped out at me:

      WHEREAS, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, there were over eight million marijuana arrests in the United States between 2001 and 2010, occurring in an upward trajectory with 140,000 more arrests in 2010 than 2001; in 2010, there were 300,000 more arrests for marijuana than arrests for all violent crimes combined; and nearly three quarters of a million people were arrested for marijuana violations in 2012, with 88 percent of drug arrests being for possession alone.

      This just floored me. To say we need a more liberalized marijuana penalties is an understatement.

    2. cass says:

      There’s two ‘more than’ in the last sentence.
      Hopefully this isn’t posted xD

    3. Anonymous says:

      Wander if one of them fine outstanding humans was from Texas..

    4. Ray says:

      Well apparently the National White Caucus of State Legislators must think this is a bad idea. Otherwise why won’t all of our state legislators agree that decriminalization is long overdue. Oh I forgot that prohibition is based on racist laws and ideas.

      It’s illegal because you want it to be, not because it’s a gateway drug, or dangerous, or addictive, or anything like that. It’s a racist law. Majority rules and there is a new majority.

    5. Shon says:

      Good deal, now get your white colleagues to do the same think. And convince the president.

    6. Mac says:

      Norml and whom it may concern, we need help in Pennsylvania. I have a friend’s sibling on $100k bail for a 1/4 and 3 plants!! It’s so out if proportion. Ed even a first offender too. Pennsylvania needs to be the next fighting ground despite of the smoke outs and theses arrests.

    7. LL says:

      I’m happy to see this overwhelming call for common sense from our legislators. I’m also happy to see some officials clinging on to the same old cliches and outrageous claims, it will be there downfall. With so much public support, its only a matter of time before up and coming politicians use legalization as their platform and remove this dead wood from office. Its come too far to go back the other way and those that refuse to change will be left behind, especially when everyone sees the amount of tax money being left on the table.

    8. Ray says:

      @Ray Walker Jr. – Great observation, thinking about how many arrests were made and by removing the arrest rate from our legal system is a benefit (unless your a state that relies on that arrest for income). Or the states can keep arresting blacks, whites, soccer moms, high school kids, cancer patients, parents of children with dravet syndrome, people with ms, etc…

      There is a better way, like it or not legalization is coming and the money train is rounding the corner. Jump on or not, but the laws of supply and demand will equalize. When this happens marijuana will cost $2 a pound + tax. The money will be in secondary items and all the businesses will be established in states like Colorado, Washington, California, and who ever gets in first.

      I am in no way an advocate for teen drug use. Teens are stupid enough and don’t need drugs to make them any dumber. I agree being sober is always the best option, yet if kids want to experiment with drugs then I would rather it be marijuana than prescription pills, alcohol, meth, heroin, crack, huffing, bath salts, or even synthetic marijuana. At least the drug will not kill them and most of them play video games while high anyway.

      Education is the key not fear of arrest, thanks to our DARE program my kids know all about drugs, and when someone dies of heroin I remind them of the dangers of using drugs. But we watch Miley Cyrus twerking and smoking a joint on tv, don’t think our kids are not seeing this. They also see mom and dad with a beer or a glass of wine at dinner.

      @NORML-A 1-5 question poll cost around $2000 and it samples 500 people. What guidelines do you suggest and can we work together to do one in New York before the end of State sessions in June? New York needs to vote on this now, the bills are there but never advance to the floor for a vote.

      [Editor’s note: Please coordinate survey polling project with NY NORML chapters.]

    9. Galileo Galilei says:

      “When a darkie smokes marijuana, he thinks he just as good as a white man”, said A.J. Anslinger. He went on to add, “The main reason for making marijuana illegal was its effect on the degenerate races.”

      I wonder how Barack Obama got the notion that in the good ol’ US of A any boy had the potential to grow up to be president.

    10. “[The] NBCSL supports the states’ authority to make a determination as to what age, at or above 18, qualifies as a “legal adult” who may purchase, possess, or consume marijuana [and] … urges the federal government to reduce the penalties associated with the use and simple possession of marijuana.”

      And that age limit should be 18, consistent with the age of majority in most states. We need look no further than the 21 drinking age to see what a joke it is to set the age limit higher than the age of majority. And I would add that regardless of age, we need to stop all arrests and criminal penalties for simple possession and consumption of cannabis, period.

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