The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado has joined the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, a coalition supporting a 2012 ballot initiative to end cannabis prohibition in Colorado.
The initiative would make marijuana legal for adults, take it out of the black market, and establish a system in which it is regulated, taxed and sold similar to alcohol.
“In Colorado we believe our laws should be practical and they should be fair,” the group said in a statement
. “Yet we are wasting scarce public resources in our criminal justice system by having police, prosecutors and the courts treat marijuana users like violent criminals.
“It is unconscionable for our state to spend tax dollars to arrest, prosecute and crowd the courts, and jail people for possession of a small amount of marijuana, especially when those being arrested and jailed are disproportionately people of color,” the group said.
“The war on drugs has failed,” the group said. “Prohibition is not a sensible way to deal with marijuana. The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol will move us toward a more rational approach to drug laws.”
“The ACLU is one of the largest organizations in the state and their support lends a lot of credibility to our efforts and helps us make the point that marijuana prohibition is a huge waste of resources,” Tvert said. “It sends the message to other groups that this is a mainstream issue.”
According to the ACLU of Colorado:
• Colorado authorities made 17,000 arrests for drug offenses last year.
• One in five people in Colrado’s prisons are serving time for a drug offense.
• This initiative is a significant step toward dismantling the failed War on Drugs, and one of its defining injustices. Across the country, people of color, particularly youth of color, are far more likely than whites to be arrested for low-level marijuana possession, despite the fact that usage rates are at least as high among whites.
• Colorado has the authority and autonomy to craft its own drug laws and to decide what conduct to criminalize, or not, under state law. When we look at the federal Controlled Substances Act, we see that Congress has purposely created a vigorous and independent role for states to enact and enforce their drug laws.
• Colorado currently allows the possession, cultivation and distribution of marijuana for medicinal purposes. The federal government has never challenged this law as being an affront to federal authority.