Last week, the Pennsylvania NAACP endorsed a pending marijuana legalization bill. And on the 4th of July, the civil rights group stepped up that support, holding a press conference to gain traction for the legislation.
The bill, Senate Bill 528, is sponsored by Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery County), and is currently bottled up in the Senate Law and Justice Committee. It would legalize, tax, and regulate the possession of small amounts of pot, as well as its commerce.
"I am honored that the NAACP has spoken out in favor of my legislation to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana in Pennsylvania," Leach said at the press conference. "As noted in recent reports, the war on drugs is racially-biased, inefficient and ineffective; and this modern day prohibition of a product less harmful than alcohol and tobacco needs to end. We can better use the resources we’re spending to fight this unnecessary war, and we can better spend our time and energy cracking down on substances that are actually harmful."
The state NAACP came on board in the wake of the release of a report recently conducted by the ACLU that showed that black Americans are more than three times more likely to be arrested on marijuana charges than white Americans. In the Keystone State, the report found, blacks are 5.2 times more likely to be busted for pot than whites.
"As a representative of the NAACP and a retired Deputy Chief of Police with more than 31 years of service with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) Police Department, it is time Pennsylvania respond to this injustice in a rational and sensible way," said Harvey Crudup, president of the NAACP's Cheltenham Area Branch. "Millions of dollars per year in additional revenues can be generated to build more schools instead of prisons. These tax dollars can also subsidize drug treatment, job training and diversion programs to reduce racial disparities in Pennsylvania’s criminal justice system as well as transportation projects throughout the Commonwealth."
In addition to Leach and Crudup, other speakers at the press conference included Neill Franklin, executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, and David Scott, chair of the legal redress committee for the Cheltenham Area Branch.
– Article originally from Stop the Drug War, used with permission.