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NAACP calls for feds to respect states’ marijuana laws

Resolution:

NAACP SUPPORTS ALLOWING STATES TO DECREASE PENALTIES FOR LOW-LEVEL DRUG POSSESSION

WHEREAS, as a result of the “War on Drugs” and mandatory minimum sentences imposed largely at the federal level, the prison population has exploded in the past few decades; and

WHEREAS, one crucial result of these misguided and misplaced policies has been the disproportionate over-confinement of racial and ethnic minorities: more than 60% of the people in prison are now racial and ethnic minorities; and

WHEREAS, two-thirds of all persons in prison today for drug offenses are people of color; and

WHEREAS, more than 700,000 people annually are arrested in the United States for the possession of marijuana; and

WHEREAS, even though numerous studies demonstrate that whites and African Americans use and sell marijuana at relatively the same rates, studies also demonstrate that African Americans are, on average, almost 4 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession, and in some jurisdictions Blacks are 30 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites; and

WHEREAS, there are also extreme economic consequences to the present day enforcement of marijuana laws; nationally, states spent an estimated $3.61 billion enforcing marijuana possession laws in 2010 alone; money that could be spent on education, job training, and other valuable services; and

WHEREAS, several states throughout the U.S. have departed from current federal law to develop more well-tailored and effective guidelines and sentencing ranges for small, low-level marijuana use which are moderating some of the more extreme federal policies and their repercussions; and

WHEREAS, these state laws are at times at odds with federal laws; and

WHEREAS, legislation has been introduced in the 113th Congress, H.R. 1523, with strong bipartisan support, which would prohibit the federal enforcement of marijuana laws in states which have lesser penalties.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP supports H.R. 1523 and encourages its swift enactment; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the NAACP Washington Bureau shall contact Members of the Congress and urge the swift enactment of H.R. 1523.

H.R. 1523 is the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2013.

It amends the Controlled Substances Act to provide that provisions of such Act related to marihuana shall not apply to any person acting in compliance with state laws relating to the production, possession, distribution, dispensation, administration, or delivery of marihuana.

Congress needs to listen to the NAACP on this.

According to Tom Angell, of The Marijuana Majority:

“For obvious historical reasons, many civil rights leaders who agree with us about the harms of marijuana prohibition still remain reluctant to see the states chart their own courses out of the failed ‘war on drugs.’ Having the NAACP’s support for a states’ rights approach to marijuana reform is going to have a huge impact and will provide comfort and cover to politicians and prominent people who want to see prohibition end but who are a little skittish about states getting too far ahead of the feds on this issue.”

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Marijuana and Moralism

Andrew Sullivan has an outstanding column based on his appearance with David Frum on CNN to talk about marijuana.

Marijuana and Moralism

I know Ross will differ on the substance, but I doubt he will argue that my support for marriage equality stemmed from mere libertarianism (which would have led me to oppose all such marital benefits for everyone) but from a deep moral sense that we were (and are) violating the dignity of the homosexual person and perpetuating enormous pain for no obvious reason.

Now, the argument for legalizing marijuana is not quite the same. It’s much more based on the simple argument of personal liberty. But it has its moral components as well. The grotesquely disproportionate impact of Prohibition on African-Americans is an affront to any sense of morality and fairness, just as the refusal to research cannabis for its potential medical uses – to prevent seizures in children, for example – seems immoral to me. Some might argue that the right response to this is decriminalization, not legalization. But keeping marijuana illegal profoundly constrains the potential for medical research on it, sustains a growing and increasingly lucrative criminal industry, and does nothing to keep it from the sole cohort for whom it could do harm: teenagers.

Andrew has been a passionate and articulate voice for marijuana law reform for some time. It’s always nice to see him taking on the David Frums and Ross Douthats of the journalism world.

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This is your brain on drug war

Drug Free

Eric T. Wright, Gladsden Times

Students learn ‘drug free is way to be’

Wednesday afternoon, deputies visited Southside Elementary School and came with an armored vehicle, a horse, two motorcycles and a helicopter. Public Information Officer Natalie Barton said they bring their specialized vehicles because children love them and it grabs their attention, which allows deputies to spread the anti-drug message.

Hey, kids! Look at all these cool weapons. Using a tank against your friends is lots more fun than doing drugs.

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Fun with Kevin and Friends

It’s interesting how Mr. Sabet’s “friends” end up being so… passionate.

I’ve been having a fun exchange with “Brian C,” who purports to be merely an interested reader checking out Kevin’s book, and yet feels the need to go to extreme lengths to criticize my review.

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Portland, Maine

Yesterday, the voters in Portland, Maine legalized the possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana for recreational purposes. The measure passed overwhelmingly with 70% of voters in favor.

Note: it doesn’t legalize the sale or growing of marijuana, so it’s only a partial “legalization,” but still, pretty impressive.

Note: The police say they will continue to arrest people for possession based on state laws, and yesterday, Kevin Sabet’s Project SAM set up shop in Portland.

Meanwhile, in Colorado, 65% of voters approved the new marijuana taxes – a 15% excise tax and a 10% sales tax. While those taxes are significant (and significantly higher than alcohol taxes), and I’m concerned that the state do what it can do encourage legal channels at the beginning rather than discouraging them, still I think that smart producers will still be able to achieve a price point that will satisfy purchasers who would like to buy legally. And the taxes will help the political future of legalization.

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