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September 17, 2010

"Marijuana law reform is a civil rights issue"

The title of this post is the headline of this commentary appearing in the San Francisco Chronicle and authored by Alice Huffman, the president of the California State NAACP. Here is how it starts and ends:

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." So said the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1967, when he spoke out against the Vietnam War. At the time, he was roundly criticized for speaking out on an issue considered outside the purview of civil rights leaders. King understood better than most at the time, the true cost of war - in lives lost, in futures squandered, in dreams deferred and in misspent resources. Eventually, a majority of Americans came to agree with him about the war in Vietnam. His moral courage lay in speaking out in the face of no agreement, caring more about his integrity than his popularity.

It is the mission of the California NAACP to eradicate injustice and continue the fight for civil rights and social justice wherever and whenever we can. We are therefore compelled to speak out against another war, the so called "war on drugs."

This is not a war on the drug lords and violent cartels. This is a war that disproportionately impacts young men and women and is the latest tool for imposing Jim Crow justice on poor African Americans.

We reject the oft-repeated but deceptive argument that there are only two choices for dealing with drugs - heavy-handed law enforcement or total permissiveness. Substance abuse and addiction are American problems that impact every socioeconomic group, and meaningful public health and safety strategies are needed to address it. However, law enforcement strategies that target poor blacks and Latinos and cause them to bear the burden and shame of arrest, prosecution and conviction for marijuana offenses must stop....

The California NAACP does not believe maintaining the illusion that we're winning the "war on drugs" is worth sacrificing another generation of our young men and women.

Enough is enough. We want change we can believe in, and that's why we're supporting Prop. 19. Instead of wasting money on marijuana law enforcement, Prop. 19 will generate tax revenues we can use to improve the education and employment outcomes of our youth.  Our youth want and deserve a future. Let's invest in people, not prisons.

Some related posts on pot policy and politics:

September 17, 2010 at 06:35 AM | Permalink


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That's it! The way to promote the long term interests of minorities is to help them get stoned more often!

Well that's just so groooooovy!

Posted by: Bill Otis | Sep 17, 2010 11:01:15 PM

Neither minorities nor anybody else needs help getting stoned, Bill. What adult Americans who smoke pot need is the same as what those who prefer beer, wine or liquor need...not to be imprisoned for indulging their vices.

Posted by: John K | Sep 18, 2010 12:04:12 PM

John K --

In an earlier age of political correctness, encouraging vices in minority groups was called "genocide." This was baloney, of course, as PC smear jobs tend to be, but it had a germ of truth, to wit, that a legal system that accommodates corrosive behavior among minorities (welfare-financed out-of-wedlock children, gambling/lotteries, easy access to cheap liquor, etc.) contributes to holding them back.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Sep 19, 2010 9:20:15 AM

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