“This is not a drugs right issue. This is a civil rights issue.”
That’s Alice Huffman, President of the organization. She points to a recent study by the Drug Policy Alliance that shows arrest rates of African Americans for marijuana possession are substantially higher in the state’s 25 largest counties than those for whites. That’s despite federal figures that show young blacks are less likely to use marijuana than young whites. Huffman says a change is needed:
“It is time for them to stop using my community to populate the prison systems on such minor offenses as having a joint.”
Huffman argues that resources spent now on enforcing marijuana laws could be spent on education. But Sacramento-based Bishop Ron Allen of the International Faith-Based Coalition says Huffman’s reasoning isn’t solid. He says he’s troubled by the arrest rates, too – but legalizing marijuana won’t help:
"Alcohol is legalized, we’re having problems. Tobacco is legalized, we’re having problems. Are we going to legalize crack cocaine and say that’s going to stop the black males from going to prison? What a ridiculous argument!”
The ballot measure, known as prop. 19, would legalize and tax marijuana for recreational use for Californians 21 and older.