Marijuana: NAACP backs bill calling for feds to respect states' pot rights

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Photos and more below.
In April, we told you about the Respect State Rights Marijuana Act of 2013, which calls on the federal government to respect state marijuana laws. Among the original co-sponsors: Colorado Representative Jared Polis.

Since then, the legislation has made little progress, but it's just gotten a boost. The NAACP has passed a resolution in support of the measure, and Rosemary Lytle, president of the Colorado Montana Wyoming State Conference, explains why it's a priority.

"We at the NAACP have a historic hesitancy about states' right causes," Lytle acknowledges, and no wonder, since this particular argument has been advanced throughout the nation's history to enslave or discriminate against people of color. "But in this case, we fully support the legislative effort for all the reasons outlined in the resolution."

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Rosemary Lytle.
The document's text, seen below in its entirety, notes that "more than 60 percent of the people in prison are now racial and ethnic minorities" and "two-thirds of all persons in prison today for drug offenses are people of color." And Lytle adds some statistics from a study created by the 2012 campaign supporting Amendment 64, which allowed adults 21 and over to use and possess small amounts of marijuana.

"Around 35 percent of marijuana arrests in Colorado were of African-Americans and Latinos," she notes, "even though African-Americans only make up about 4 percent of the population and Latinos are about 19 percent. So that number is hugely and egregiously disproportionate when you look at the overall population, and shows the impact of a failed and flawed drug policy. You don't have to look far. It's in our own backyard."

Graphics from the study, entitled "Marijuana Possession Arrests in Colorado 1986-2010" (we've included it below, as well), illustrate Lytle's point. The first depicts marijuana possession arrest rates of whites, Latinos and blacks in Colorado....

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...while the second juxtaposes the percentage of blacks and Latinos in Colorado's population with the percentage of blacks and Latinos arrested in the state for marijuana possession:

percentage.of.blacks.and.latinos.in.colorado.population.and.percentage.of.blacks.and.latinos.in.colorado.marijuana.possession.arrests.jpg
Figures like these helped convince the Colorado Montana Wyoming state conference to support Amendment 64 by a state leaders' vote of 75-4. And attending the International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Denver last month only reinforced Lytle's view that this was the right move. At one session, she recalls, Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, "said something I'll never forget. He said there are some people who love drugs, some people who hate drugs, some people who never think about drugs, but there's one thing for sure: No other country in the world incarcerates more people, and especially more black folks, because of drugs.

"That's why this is important. This resolution just fits with where I see my head and my heart as I think about social justice and the idea of a drug policy that supports people."

As such, she's eager to answer the national organization's "call to action for state conferences to talk with our congressional delegations" about the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2013 -- "marching orders as foot soldiers in the movement to speak out and convince them to support it."

Continue to read the NAACP resolution, the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2013 and a study of marijuana possession arrests in Colorado from 1986 to 2010.


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19 comments
Craig Maybell
Craig Maybell

Maybe if they carried assault rifles while asserting "states' rights," you'd be on board then, eh, Douchey?

Craig Maybell
Craig Maybell

Cori Redford, there is no point in reasoning with an unreasonable, self-absorbed, libertine-leaning Internet DWEEB. As long as it doesn't affect him/her personally, he/she does not CARE about the ramifications of any particularly policy on society at large. That's simply the cold hard reality.

Cori Redford
Cori Redford

Disproportionately doesn't mean that you didn't get charged or sentenced; it means that by percent of the population of smokers, MORE African-Americans were apprehended and prosecuted. Even though there are similar percentages of users in both populations (white and black), African-American users are prosecuted nearly four times as often.

Bradley Crable
Bradley Crable

I am not African-American and have got busted for Marijuana back in 2001. Got over a year for 1/2 oz in two baggies. You'r comment to me make's me laugh!

Bradley Crable
Bradley Crable

Fed's are garbage! They WILL NOT doing nothing about the sales of Marijuana nor anything to do with it. To much money for everyone....

Heather Doozer
Heather Doozer

the feds need to learn to respect state's rights about everything not just pot

Cori Redford
Cori Redford

Since African-Americans are disproportionately charged and sentenced in pot possession cases, it makes sense that the NAACP would support states' rights in this case. That is actually one of the major reasons that I voted for legalization.

Ryan Bauer
Ryan Bauer

Oh the NAACP has spoken, I guess that changes everything (sarcasm)

_McShyster_
_McShyster_

Jared Polis = the same lying liar who falsely claimed that Betsy Ross made the first American flag out of hemp.

ZERO Credibility.


_McShyster_
_McShyster_

@Craig Maybell ... except in the minds of deranged Teabaggers.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@Cori Redford Exactly right, Cori. Thanks for the post.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@Bradley Crable Thanks for sharing your experiences, Bradley.

_McShyster_
_McShyster_

@Bradley Crable = doomed to repeat his past mistakes

stuka1
stuka1

@_McShyster_ <---- Licks Gil Kerlikowske's asshole clean every time he takes a shit on the US Constitution.

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