Washingtonians won’t be voting on marijuana legalization this year, but Californians still will. Proposition 19 will be on the November ballot and it picked up a big endorsement this week (via Pete Guither):
Saying that prohibition takes a heavy toll on minorities, leaders of the NAACP’s California chapter announced Monday that they are backing passage of 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.
This caused a Sacramento minister by the name of Ron Allen to put out a press release attacking the NAACP [emphasis mine]:
Bishop Ron Allen says, “It is time to take a closer look at how decisions are made at the California NAACP and what the contributing factors were that caused Alice Huffman to side with Proposition 19. California NAACP President Alice Huffman is selling out the very people that the NAACP has a history of protecting. She has been bought and paid for by the highest bidder, in this case it is George Soros, his Open Society Institute and the Soros Foundation Network. We know Soros is a major contributor to the NAACP and he is a primary funding source for the legalization of marijuana worldwide. With Huffman’s position on legalization, she is destroying the good work the NAACP has done for the African American people, and she is discrediting the good name of the NAACP. She has sold us out for her personal financial gain and I call for her immediate resignation. Alice Huffman, step down as the President of the California NAACP now and restore its good name.”
Allen continues, “As a NAACP member, I call for an internal investigation as to the NAACP’s ties to the marijuana lobby.”
I think Allen might be able to find his answer right here:
A look at booking stats for California’s 25 most-populated areas finds that in Los Angeles County African-Americans have a marijuana-possession arrest rate that’s 332 percent higher than that for whites.
The report, “Targeting Blacks For Marijuana,” was released this week and found that across those 25 largest counties the pot-holding arrest rate for blacks was often at least double that of whites despite evidence that indicates African-Americans use cannabis at a lower rate. In L.A. County the percentage was more than quadruple.
Anyone who’s been involved in drug law reform for some time is well familiar with the odd contradiction that occurs in many African-American neighborhoods. Despite being the most negatively impacted by the downstream effects of marijuana prohibition – from the violence of drug gangs to the disproportionate numbers of people within those neighborhoods who end up in jail – many of the leading voices within these communities cling to the belief that the drug war is both moral and necessary. But the impact of these racial disparities and the increased divide between African-American neighborhoods and the rest of America has made the truth of prohibition’s impact too hard to ignore.
During our failed American experiment with alcohol prohibition, a major milestone in its eventual repeal was when New York Mayor Fiorella LaGuardia began pointing out how devastating it was to New York’s large immigrant communities. The NAACP’s endorsement of Proposition 19 is an important milestone in this fight.