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NAACP

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director June 26, 2013

    The Pennsylvania Chapter of the NAACP endorsed Senate Bill 528, legislation that would regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol, yesterday during a press conference in Harrisburg. SB 528 was introduced earlier this year by State Senator Daylin Leach*.

    Speaking at the press conference the current chair of the Legal Redress Committee for the Cheltenham Area Branch of the NAACP, David Scott, stated, “The war on drugs is a catastrophic failure.”

    Sponsor Daylin Leach welcomed the group’s support. “This is decimating the minority community. This is a problem that is particularly acute,” said Senator Leach.

    More coverage of this endorsement can be found here, here, and here.

    Sponsors of Senate Bill 528 hope to bring it up for a committee hearing in the fall.

    A recent report released by the ACLU, The War on Marijuana: In Black and White, revealed that Pennsylvania was one of the worst states when it came to racial disparities in marijuana arrests. According to their data, an African American in Pennsylvania is over five times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white Pennsylvanians, despite using at similar rates.

    *Senator Leach is also running for the US House of Representatives and has received support from NORML PAC. You can learn more about Senator Leach’s campaign here or the NORML PAC here. You can learn more about the ACLU report here.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director August 23, 2012

    This morning, the Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana conference of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) endorsed Amendment 64, a Colorado ballot initiative that aims to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. This adds to the growing list of organizations getting behind the ballot measure, which already includes groups such as the Democratic and Libertarian Parties of Colorado, the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar, and the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition.

    Speaking in support of the endorsement, conference president Rosemary Harris Lytle stated, “In ending the prohibition against adult use of marijuana we might affect mass incarceration and its disproportionate impact on African-Americans and other people of color.”

    The latest polls show growing support for Amendment 64 among Colorado citizens, particularly driven by an influx of support from independent voters. When first polled in early June, a Public Policy Polling survey had support for the initiative at 46% to 42% opposed. In early August, PPP conducted their first survey of “likely” Colorado voters, and the spread had increased to 49% support and only 40% opposed. During that time, independent voters moved from 49% support and 40% opposed in June to 58% support and 28% opposed in August.

    Learn more about Amendment 64 by visiting the campaign’s website here. You can also learn about all the other ways marijuana law reform comes into play during the 2012 election by reading NORML’s online voter guide “Smoke the Vote.”

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director August 4, 2011

    Mayor Michael Bloomberg, by most all accounts, is one of the most fascinating political characters of the last decade. A self-made billionaire who, with a clear love for his fellow human beings and with great civic pride, chose to effectively become New York City’s mayor for the last nine years—spending more personal wealth than most any other political candidate in US history, for a mayor’s office no less—as the ultimate expression of his ability and want to positively effect as many people as possible, in a city (and region) that he clearly loves, during his tenure in a position where he can get things done.

    Along the way to becoming one of America’s wealthiest individuals, Mr. Bloomberg has donated a remarkable amount of money to many worthy causes, notably in the field to improve public health in America and the world, most especially at his alma mater, one of the best universities in the world, Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.

    With good health and continued good fortune, who knows what further impact Mr. Bloomberg will choose to make in national politics in his lifetime? He possess all the requisite skills and resources to become president if that’s what he chooses.

    Today we find out that Mayor Bloomberg is once again demonstrating why he is one of the most interesting and charitable politicians in the modern era in reading today’s New York Times about his most recent donation of $30 million to help black and Latino youth get better integrated into the region’s economy, develop valuable skill sets and to find productive employment.

    The Times reports that Mayor Bloomberg’s initial grant will be matched by New York City-based hedge fund manager and philanthropist George Soros.

    Here is the ironic point to this blog post: If Mayor Bloomberg is genuinely serious about creating more favorable employment environs for black and Latino youth in New York City, he should converse with Mr. Soros, who, has donated more money than anyone on the face of the earth in favor of drug policy reform—notably for cannabis law reforms—who, I’m sure would insist that the good mayor stop arresting black and Latino youth in New York City en mass.

    Regrettably, embarrassingly, for such an enlightened and civic-minded man, Mayor Bloomberg has largely maintained the shameful and starkly racially disparate cannabis law enforcement policies that he inherited from former Mayor (and drug prosecutor) Rudolf Giuliani. Mayor Giuliani exploded the annual cannabis arrest rate in the five boroughs of New York City from an average of about 2,000 arrests to an eye-popping 60,000 arrests per year.

    Bloomberg’s administration has, on average, maintained an annual arrest rate for simple cannabis possession cases over 45,000, with a disturbing ninety percent of arrests happening to….black and Latino youth.

    Mayor Bloomberg, please, listen to Mr. Soros and stop arresting and negatively effecting future employment opportunities for an entire generation of minorities in New York City who got caught doing the same thing you did in your more youthful years.

    And look how well you turned out after using cannabis?

    Why deny over 45,000 other New Yorkers (and tourists) annually the opportunity to pursue their life’s goals and dreams just because, like you, absent an arrest for your cannabis use, they chose to use a little ganja to relax? Unfortunately for them and New York taxpayers, they’re getting permanently scarred by your feckless and expensive Cannabis Prohibition law enforcement practices in Gotham.

    Mayor Bloomberg, your generous and thoughtful donation of $30 million—and that of Mr. Soros’—will be working at cross purposes if you continue to give the green light to the NYPD to arrest 45,000 cannabis consumers annually into the criminal justice system, the vast majority of whom are the very population you’re concerned with.

    Mr. Bloomberg, if you’re worried about saving face or “what does the NAACP think about all of this?”, don’t be. Because, hundreds of thousands of cannabis consumers and tourists in New York City will very much appreciate the change in policy and the NAACP now supports changing America’s antiquated Cannabis Prohibition laws.

    Mayor Bloomberg, please magnify the positive impact of your philanthropy and concerns for civil society by ending the practice of ‘collaring’ cannabis consumers in New York City, and, instead, return to the cost effective and less detrimental practice to cannabis consumers (notably for minorities) by simply issuing a civil fine in the form of a written ticket for cannabis possession cases rather than employ valuable police time and resources unnecessarily arresting so many black and Latino cannabis consumers.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director November 1, 2010

    Californians are less than 24 hours away from making history.

    On November 2, tens of millions of voters will enter the voting booth and decide ‘yes’ on Proposition 19 — which re-legalizes the adult, non-medical possession, use, and cultivation of cannabis in California. For the first time in 97 years, marijuana will be legal under state law to possess, use, and grow in California. This will be the vote heard around the world.

    If you live in California, imagine waking up Wednesday morning and knowing, for the first time since 1913, that marijuana (when possessed or grown within limited quantities) is legal under state law.

    That is why it is so important that you and your like-minded friends take to the polls tomorrow. According to the latest Survey USA poll, which sampled voter’s sentiment through Sunday, October 31, Proposition 19 is in a statistical dead heat: 44 percent ‘for’ versus 46 percent ‘opposed’, with ten percent of voters undecided! In short, we are within striking distance, and victory is achievable — but only if you act on Tuesday.

    I realize that some of you may still have lingering questions regarding Proposition 19 — how it will, and how it won’t change the marijuana laws in California. That is why NORML has posted a word-by-word analysis of Prop. 19 here. Or you can read specific sections of the measure here, along with detailed replies to frequently asked questions here. Finally, you can watch the latest ad in support of Prop. 19 here.

    Proposition 19 is endorsed by an unparalleled coalition of social justice, law enforcement, civil rights, and drug policy reform organizations, including: NORML, The Drug Policy Alliance, The Marijuana Policy Project, DrugSense, StoptheDrugWar.org, the ACLU of Northern and Southern California, the California Libertarian Party, the California Green Party, the National Black Police Association, the National Latino Officers Association, the California Council of Churches IMPACT, the California National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the California League of United Latin American Citizens, the Latino Voters League, the Progressive Jewish Alliance, and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), Western States Council. These organizations, and many others, believe that November 3 will mark a new beginning in California — and around the globe.

    Help make history on November 2 — support Proposition 19.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director October 22, 2010

    From 2006 to 2008, African Americans were arrested for marijuana possession offenses in California’s 25 largest cities at at four, five, six, seven and even twelve times the rate of whites, according to a report released today by researchers at the Queens College, City University of New York and Shenandoah University in Virginia.

    Among some of the California cities profiled:

    * The City of Los Angeles, with ten percent of California’s population, arrested blacks for marijuana possession at seven times the rate of whites.

    * San Diego, the second largest city in California, arrested blacks for marijuana possession at nearly six times the rate of whites.

    * In Pasadena, blacks are 11% of the population but 49% of the people arrested for marijuana possession. Pasadena arrested blacks at twelve and a half times the rate of whites.

    * In Sacramento, the state capitol, blacks are 14% of the city’s population but more than 51% of all the people arrested for possessing marijuana.

    * San Jose, the third largest city in California, is only 2.9% African American. But San Jose arrested blacks for marijuana possession at more than five times the rate of whites. San Jose arrested 619 blacks per 100,000 blacks compared to 121 whites per 100,000 whites.

    * The City of Torrance, with a population of 140,000, had the highest racial disparity of the 25 cities. Blacks are only 2% of the population but they made up almost 24% of the people arrested for marijuana possession. Torrance arrested blacks at over thirteen times the rate for whites.

    These racially-biased marijuana arrests were a system-wide phenomenon, occurring in every county and nearly every police department in California,” the report states. “The substantial disparities in marijuana possession arrest rates of whites and blacks cannot be explained by their patterns of marijuana use. … U.S. government studies consistently find that young blacks use marijuana at lower rates than young whites.”

    From 1990 through 2009, police departments in California made 850,000 criminal prosecutions for possessing small amounts of marijuana, and half a million marijuana possession prosecutions in the last ten years, the report found.

    Today’s report is a follow up to a June 2010 study commissioned by the Drug Policy Alliance which determined that from 2004 through 2008, in every one of the 25 largest counties in California, African Americans were arrested for marijuana possession at double or triple the rates of whites.

    Full text of today’s study, “Arresting Blacks for Marijuana in California Possession — Arrests in 25 Cities, 2006-08,” is available online here.

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