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NAACP Support a National Study on the Impact and Consequences of Marijuana Enforcement on African- American Communities

Adopted as amended

WHEREAS, for over 30 years the American criminal justice system has waged a costly and unsuccessful "war on drugs" which has not made our communities any safer from drugs or violence or helped lower addition rates; and 

WHEREAS, the war on drugs is not impacting the drug lords and cartels for which it was intended, rather disproportionally targeting African-American communities and other communities of color, effectively creating a 'Jim Crow' system of justice that systematically perpetuates structural racism; and 

WHEREAS, the majority of law enforcement resources are being spent on dealing with low-level drug offenses such as marijuana possession, leaving little resources to address and investigate violent and more serious crimes; and 

WHEREAS, we spend billions of dollars to prosecute and incarcerate marijuana offenses, while refusing to invest in effective programs that will foster public safety – such as diversion programs, education, rehabilitation and treatment; and 

WHEREAS, the implementation of marijuana laws specifically have been unduly burdensome and unjust to minorities, and specifically African-American males; and 

WHEREAS, data indicates that Blacks represent over one-third of drug arrests yet represent 46% of people convicted on drug felonies in state courts; and 

WHEREAS, 40% of the roughly 1.5 million people who are arrested each year on drug violations are arrested for marijuana possession; and 

WHEREAS, the percentage of African-Americans and Whites who use marijuana over any 30-day period are similar, yet for the 18-25 age group which constitutes a substantial proportion of marijuana arrests, African-Americans regularly use marijuana at a rate lower than White (16.5% and 18.4% respectively), suggesting that their overrepresentation in the criminal justice system may be even more profound; and 

WHEREAS, youth who get disproportionately caught up on marijuana charges find it more difficult to find employment and housing because of a criminal drug record; and 

WHEREAS, the tearing apart of our families and communities as a result of this seemingly targeted enforcement of marijuana laws is too high a price to pay; and 

WHEREAS, the potential harm that may be associated with using marijuana is more than outweighed by the immediate harm that result from being caught in the web of the criminal justice system; and 

WHEREAS, we strongly oppose the usage, sale and distribution of marijuana other than for specifically prescribed and diagnosed medicinal purposes. 

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP call for a national study to assess the disproportionate impact of marijuana enforcement on African- American communities and other communities of color; and 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP will continue to advocate for effective policies to deal with drugs and violence in our communities; and 

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the NAACP will continue to fight for a fair, just and balanced system of administering justice in the United States.