Pubdate: Tue, 29 Jun 2010
Source: Oakland Tribune, The (CA)
Copyright: 2010 Bay Area News Group
Author: Josh Richman, Oakland Tribune
Cited: California NAACP
Cited: Proposition 19
Referenced: Targeting Blacks for Marijuana
Referenced: Marijuana Arrests and California's Drug War


The state NAACP is expressing "unconditional support" for the 
November ballot measure to legalize marijuana, continuing proponents' 
framing of it as a civil rights issue.

"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 Monday. "There is a strong racial 
component that must be considered when we investigate how the 
marijuana laws are applied to people of color."

The measure, Control and Tax Cannabis Initiative 2010, was designated 
Monday as Proposition 19.

The Drug Policy Alliance will join the California State Conference of 
the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and 
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition at a news conference Tuesday 
morning in Sacramento 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.

Huffman said data from the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice 
shows half of California's marijuana possession arrestees in 1990 
were nonwhite and 28 percent were under age 20, but in 2009, 62 
percent were nonwhite and 42 percent were under age 20. Marijuana 
possession arrests of youth of color rose from about 3,100 in 1990 to 
about 16,300 in 2008 - a surge about three times greater than that 
group's population growth, she said.

"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."

San Diego-based nonprofit Californians for Drug Free Youth hosted an 
event Friday in Universal City so community leaders - including some 
African Americans - could speak out against the legalization measure.

"I had a good year in 2009; I only buried six youths related to drugs 
and drug overdoses," said Bishop Ron Allen, president of the 
International Faith Based Coalition. "If marijuana is legalized in 
the state of California, crime will increase, murder will increase. 
If marijuana is legalized in my community, and is legalized in my 
world, and our youth have an opportunity to be able to use, we will 
see more dropouts, we will see an increase of crime, and we will see 
more individuals hanging out on the corner, and I am seriously afraid 
we will lose generations to come."

Former Los Angeles City Councilman and state Senator Nate Holden said 
he believes legalization won't stop Mexican drug cartels with big 
investments in marijuana. "They are here to stay, and they are going 
to destroy our society if we let them. We are going to fight them and 
we are not going to let them destroy us." 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake