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Supports Decriminalization and Regulation of Medical-and Adult-Use of Cannabis

WHEREAS, the origins of cannabis prohibition in the United States, in the early part of the 20th century, were tainted with racism, with prohibitionists stoking fears about Mexican immigrants using "marijuana" and connecting the use of marijuana to African-American jazz musicians; and 

WHEREAS, cannabis was officially outlawed for any use (medical included) with the passage of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970; and 

WHEREAS, since the mid-1990s, advocates have succeeded in passing state medical cannabis laws so that patients with certain qualifying conditions are able to obtain and use cannabis to alleviate their suffering. Today, 33 states, along with the District of Columbia and four U.S. territories, have effective medical cannabis laws; and 

WHEREAS, beginning with Colorado and Washington in 2012, 10 states, along with the District of Columbia and two U.S. territories, have made the possession and use of cannabis legal for all adults. In nearly all of these states, the laws have also allowed for regulated production and sale of cannabis and cannabis products; and 

WHEREAS, while these medical and adult-use cannabis states have generated many billions of dollars worth of cannabis sales and created hundreds of thousands of jobs, the industry is not creating as much opportunity for minorities as it could; and 

WHEREAS, despite significant changes in cannabis laws in the U.S. over the past 23 years, a disproportionate number of African-American adults continue to be subjected to arrests, imprisonment, and other punishments related to cannabis. For example, the American Civil Liberties Union reported in 2013 that African Americans are 3.73 times as likely to be arrested for cannabis possession despite using cannabis at approximately the same rate as the white population; and 

WHEREAS, in 2010, the NAACP passed an emergency resolution called, "NAACP Supports a National Study on the Impact and Consequences of Marijuana Enforcement on African-American Communities"; which cited a number of disturbing facts about the disproportionate number of African Americans who were incarcerated due to low-level, non-violent marijuana offenses; and 

WHEREAS, at its October, 2013, meeting the NAACP National Board of Directors passed an Action Item entitled "NAACP supports allowing states to decrease penalties for low-level drug possession" which supported a prohibition on the federal enforcement of marijuana laws in states which have lesser penalties; and  

WHEREAS, in 2016, the NAACP passed a resolution calling for "the uniform decriminalization of cannabis possession under one (1) ounce," as well as "the pardon of persons previously convicted of non-violent cannabis crimes." 

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP reaffirms its support for the decriminalization of cannabis; endorses legal, regulated markets for medical and adult-use cannabis; and urges greater diversity in the cannabis industry, with respect to both ownership and employment. 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP is calling for the automatic expungement of records for persons with past convictions for non-violent cannabis use and possession. 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP requests Congress to modify the Internal Revenue Code, Section 280 (e), that bans tax deductions under federal law and allows business people to place their money in the bank and get normal business tax deductions. 

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the NAACP calls for Congress to remove cannabis from the list of federal controlled substances and provide federal grants to states seeking  to implement entrepreneurship opportunities and job creation in the cannabis industry for low-income individuals and people of color from communities that have been disproportionately impacted by marijuana arrests and prosecutions.  

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