NAACP signs onto marijuana legalization measure

The framing of this November’s marijuana legalization ballot measure as a civil rights issue continues: The California State Conference of the NAACP will hold a news conference tomorrow morning in Sacramento to announce its “unconditional support” for the Control and Tax Cannabis Initiative 2010.

Alice Huffman“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,” State NAACP President Alice Huffman said in a news release. “There is a strong racial component that must be considered when we investigate how the marijuana laws are applied to people of color.”

The Drug Policy Alliance will join the NAACP and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition at tomorrow’s news conference to release a report, “Targeting Blacks for Marijuana,” based on marijuana possession arrests of African Americans in California’s 25 largest counties. The alliance says the report shows African Americans are arrested for marijuana possession at higher rates than whites – at double, triple or even quadruple the rate of whites – even though the U.S. government studies consistently find that young blacks use marijuana at lower rates than young whites.

“We have empirical proof that the application of the marijuana laws has been unfairly applied to our young people of color,” Huffman said. “Justice is the quality of being just and fair and these laws have been neither just nor fair.”

“We, at the California NAACP advocate that what’s just is justice for us. Under the prophetic words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., ‘injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ It is our mission to eradicate injustice and continue the fight for civil rights and social justice wherever and whenever we can.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.