WHEREAS, drug arrests and enforcement have caused racial disparities throughout the criminal justice system, and many drug laws were first created to target racial and ethnic minorities; and
WHEREAS, Black and Latinx people make up nearly 80% of those in federal prison and 60% of those in state prison for drug crimes; and
WHEREAS, African Americans and Caucasians use marijuana at similar rates, but the arrest rate of African Americans for marijuana charges is almost 4 times that of Caucasians; and
WHEREAS, recreational marijuana is legal in nine states and decriminalized in 13 states, and medical marijuana is legal in 29 states; but expungement related legislation vary in each state, and continues clear disparities in sentencing and punishment for acts that are now considered legal; and
WHEREAS, the cannabis industry generated 9.7 billion in sales in 2017, according to Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics. There also needs to be funding put in place for the creation of robust restorative justice programs; and
WHEREAS, without reparative measures being put in place, legalization and decriminalization could leave many people incarcerated or with criminal records from drug arrests or convictions that can have lasting effects on opportunities for housing, employment, and higher education; and
WHEREAS, in order to mitigate the harm of the War on Drugs, legalization efforts must work to make whole the individuals and communities that have been harmed by the War on Drugs.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP reaffirms its 2016 resolution Advocacy & Social Justice Issues Embedded in the Economic Regulation of Medicinal Cannabis; and
THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP will advocate for marijuana legalization and decriminalization legislation which will include individual remedies for those who have been arrested for or convicted of marijuana possession or sale, including release from incarceration and automatic pardon and expungement of records; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP will continue to advocate for rehabilitation therapy and public health approaches for all those struggling with addiction; and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the NAACP units will advocate that marijuana legalization legislation and decriminalization must include reparative measures for communities by ensuring equal access to business licenses in the marijuana industry, and investing in communities that have been harmed by the War on Drugs.