|Graphic: The Hinterland Gazette|
Leaders of the NAACP’s California chapter announced Monday that they are supporting a marijuana legalization initiative on the November ballot.
“The War On Drugs is a failure and disproportionately targets young men and women of color, particularly African-American males,” said Alice Huffman, president of the NAACP’s state conference, reports Catherine Saillant at the Los Angeles Times.
The group pointed to statistics showing that last year, 62 percent of California’s marijuana arrests were of nonwhite suspects, and 42 percent were under 20 years old. The statistics were from the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice.
Cannabis arrests of African Americans occur at double, triple and even quadruple the rate of whites, despite the fact that studies show blacks use marijuana at lower rates than whites, according to NAACP officials.
“We are joining a growing number of medical professionals, labor organizations, law enforcement authorities, local municipalities and approximately 56 percent of the public in saying that it is time to decriminalize the use of marijuana,” Huffman said.
Proposition 19, Control and Tax Cannabis 2010, would allow people 21 and older to legally possess an ounce of marijuana.
Taxes would be allowed on pot sales, potentially raising billions of dollars for local and county government services, according to advocates.