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Exit Strategy to End the War on Drugs

WHEREAS, the United States has 5% of the world's population, but 25% of its prisoners; and

WHEREAS, federal, state, and local costs of the war on drugs exceed $40 billion annually and has cost $1 trillion over the last 40 years; and

WHEREAS, low-level, non-violent drug crimes now produce a lifetime of consequences for formerly incarcerated drug offenders; and

WHEREAS, during the last 5 years more than 60,000 people have been killed in Mexico as a result of drug war violence; and

WHEREAS, the majority of victims to drug-related offenses in America are African Americans; and

WHEREAS, since 2001, Portugal has decriminalized drugs and provides a model exit strategy to end the war on drugs in the United States; and

WHEREAS, between 2001 and 2006 in Portugal, rates of lifetime use of any illegal drug among seventh through ninth graders fell from 14.1% to 10.6%, an lifetime heroin use among 16- 18 year olds fell from 2.5% to 1.8%; and

WHEREAS, the majority of people who use drugs do not fit the stereotype of the 'amoral and pitiful addict' -of the estimated 250 million drug users worldwide, the United Nations estimates that less than 10% can be classified as dependent; and

WHEREAS, the NAACP continues to discourage illegal drug use of any type and recognizes that addiction is a chronic medial illness that is treatable.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP reaffirm its commitment to push for programs that divert low-level, small-scale drug offenders at the point of arrest to interventions that engage offenders in chemical dependency treatment and other social services as opposed to arrest and incarceration; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP work toward making all low-level, small-scale drug offenses be reclassified as misdemeanors rather than felonies; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP reaffirm its commitment to improving public health by stemming the spread of blood-borne diseases through policy reforms such as eliminating barriers to needle exchange programs­ including eliminating penalties for having residue in such syringes; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that law enforcement priorities and investments shift from primary low-level, small-scale drug offenses to violent, organized crime, drug, and gun traffickers, in order to reduce harm associated with the illicit drug market; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP advocates that the United States government pilot the Portugal Decriminalization program in three United States cities and apply the lessons learned of the program in other jurisdictions throughout the United States; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP participate in the bus caravan recognizing African American victims of the war on drugs; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the NAACP elevate the voices of victims of the drug war from both the U.S. and Mexico in efforts to end the U.S. war on drugs.