NAACP Endorses Initiative to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Colorado

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NAACP Endorses Initiative to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Colorado

Nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization highlights marijuana prohibition's disproportionate impact on communities of color – says regulating marijuana like alcohol "presents more effective and socially responsible approach" to marijuana

AUGUST 23, 2012 – DENVER – At a news conference this morning in Denver's Five Points neighborhood, representatives of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) will announce the organization's official endorsement of Amendment 64, the initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol in Colorado.

"Marijuana prohibition policy does more harm to our communities than good," said Rosemary Harris Lytle, president of the NAACP Colorado Montana Wyoming State Conference. "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 Colorado Montana Wyoming State Conference believes in fairness and equity," Harris Lytle added. "We are committed to changing policies that result in a disproportionate number of African-Americans and other people of color being introduced into the criminal justice system."

African-Americans made up roughly 4% of the population in Colorado in 2010, but they accounted for about 9% of marijuana possession arrests and 22% of arrests for marijuana sales and cultivation. The numbers in Denver are particularly staggering. According to a report prepared by the Denver Police Department for the the city's Marijuana Policy Review Panel, African-Americans accounted for more than 31.5% percent of arrests for private adult marijuana possession, despite making up less than 11% of the city's population.

The NAACP joins a number of other organizations that have expressed official support for Amendment 64, including the ACLU of Colorado, the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar, the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, the National Lawyers Guild, and the Democratic Party of Colorado.

"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," said Betty Aldworth, advocacy director of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana, which is supporting Amendment 64. "Their voice will play a significant role in bringing about more fair and sensible marijuana policies in Colorado."

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