California NAACP Backs Pot Legalization Proposition

Seal of approval?

When I first heard about this, I thought, “Oh man. Here comes a tidal wave of tasteless jokes,” and that’s probably true, but it’s an issue worth thinking about, anyway. The head of California’s NAACP chapter has come out solidly in favor of the state’s latest citizen marijuana legalization effort, Proposition 19. I’ll give you a paragraph break here to quickly run through the possible jokes you might hear on late-night talk shows soon.

Okay. Alice Huffman, head of the NAACP’s California State Conference, says there is such a racial component to this issue that she can’t stay out of it. I will admit, I probably wouldn’t have thought of this angle if she hadn’t spoken up. But it’s true, and the numbers bear it out. In several California counties, black people get cited for pot more than whites at anywhere from twice to four times the rate. Given the ubiquity of pot use in general, I’d say she’s got a point that can’t be ignored.

There could be myriad reasons for this numbers gap. I don’t know what they all would be, but we could start with the possibility that marijuana use is more open or public within the black community. It may or may not be, but it’s a possible contributor. In any case, it’s definitely an angle worth throwing into the discussion.

Washington Pot Initiative Future Looking Grim

Marijuana sensibilities

Washington state’s latest marijuana legalization initiative is in jeopardy of not making the November ballot and the effort’s leader is blaming Democrats and other ordinarily pot-friendly organizations such as the ACLU.

To make the ballot, I-1068 supporters need to turn in nearly 242,000 valid signatures by June 30, but so far they have nowhere near that many. In a June 7 press release, a clearly upset I-1068 campaign director Philip Dawdy charges weak-kneed “armchair liberals” with not following through with financial support for the signature collection effort. Dawdy says people and organizations that should be pro pot legalization are keeping their distance in order to limit their political exposure.

The ACLU earlier this year issued a statement that it supports decriminalization of marijuana, but does not support I-1068. The initiative would make pot legal, but provides no real regulation of the drug, the ACLU says, and it would be unrealistic to regulate pot less than tobacco or alcohol. Marijuana, the rights group says, should be taxed and controlled like these other substances.

Initiative 1068 isn’t completely dead yet, although the signature deadline is mere days away. Sensible Washington, the group pushing the initiative, earlier this week paid to have petitions inserted into 80,000 copies of one of Seattle’s alternative weeklies, The Stranger. And Dawdy said in his press release that thousands of petitions still haven’t been returned. Maybe the signature gatherers have enough names but, aided by a bit of their cause, have procrastinated in turning in their homework.