NAACP, Law Enforcement Outfit Line Up Behind Marijuana Legalization

August 28, 2012

THOMAS: Taxation and regulation [of Marijuana] will curtail drug cartels and markets. We won’t be able to totally get rid of the cartels, but we’ll be able to reduce their market share.

DENVER—The Amendment 64 campaign added a new group to its growing coalition of strange bedfellows this week when leaders of the black community came out in support of the marijuana legalization and regulation measure.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People made headlines Thursday when their Colorado-Wyoming-Montana branch officially came out in support of the Initiative to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol.

Group leaders made it clear that they do not necessarily support marijuana use, but support ending the war on drugs because it disproportionately targets people of color.

“Marijuana prohibition policy does more harm to our communities than good,” Rosemary Harris Lytle, president of the NAACP-Colorado-Montana-Wyoming State Conference, said. “That is why we have endorsed Amendment 64 which presents a more effective and socially responsible approach to how Colorado addresses the adult use of marijuana.”

The NAACP comes as the latest piece of the Amendment 64 strategy that targets interest groups not normally associated with pot-smoking.

Before this week, the Yes on 64 camp had touted the support of political conservatives, suburban parents, evangelical pastor Pat Robertson, as well as some police officers and other law-enforcement personnel.

Amendment 64 would legalize marijuana for adults 21 and over in Colorado and regulate it similarly to alcohol. If passed, Colorado would become the first state to legalize the drug for non-medicinal, recreational purposes.

The campaign embraced the support of the NAACP in a statement Thursday.

“We are proud to have the support of the NAACP, which has been at the forefront of the movement to eliminate discrimination for more than a century,” Betty Aldworth, advocacy director of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana, said. “Their voice will play a significant role in bringing about more fair and sensible marijuana policies in Colorado.”

Another group, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, has been active in the campaign. While the average voter may find the connection between cops and pot puzzling, former deputy marshall Jason Thomas says the current drug laws hurt communities by increasing crime.

“Marijuana prohibition has for decades created vacuums in opportunity for criminal elements to not only sustain incredible gains in their incomes, but to expand their operations throughout the world,” said Thomas at a recent Yes on 64 press conference. “Taxation and regulation will curtail drug cartels and markets. We won’t be able to totally get rid of the cartels, but we’ll be able to reduce their market share.”

Campaign guru Mason Tvert explained the importance of current and former law enforcement officers advocating for marijuana regulation.

“Nobody knows the failures of marijuana prohibition better than those who have experience enforcing it,” Tvert said. “They have seen firsthand how wasteful and ineffective it has been, and they recognize the benefits of removing marijuana from the underground market and putting it behind the counter in a regulated system.”

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