Laws prohibiting marijuana have been unjustly enforced and are largely responsible for the current incarceration crisis, says the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, one of the nation’s foremost organizations concerned with ending race-based discrimination. The group has officially endorsed HR 1523, a bill introduced by California Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher calling for the Controlled Substances Act to be amended so as not to apply to those in compliance with state marijuana laws. The bill is necessary because a majority of Americans now live in states with marijuana laws that conflict with the federal government’s outright ban of the drug.
Communities of color have been among the most impacted by marijuana laws. A recent study revealed that despite comparable rates of use, black people are almost four times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession as white people. More than 700,000 people are arrested for marijuana every year.
“The war on marijuana has long been a war on people of color,” said Neill Franklin, a cop for 34 years who now argues against the war on drugs as executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. “It destroys families. It destroys lives. It empowers the criminal gangs who grow rich on its sale. All this bill does is allow states to determine their own policies on marijuana so that they can begin to heal the divisions between police and the communities they serve.”
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition is a 501(c)3 nonprofit group of law enforcement officials opposed to the war on drugs.