DENVER (CBS4)– Voters in Colorado will be asked to decide whether to legalize marijuana. The initiative is getting the backing of the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization.
The NAACP is endorsing Amendment 64. The organization said pot prohibition does more harm in our communities than good.
“If only a certain segmented, targeted group, and I use the word targeted group, is the one that suffers the consequences of illegalities of the activity then you have to call to question what the motives are of the legislation,” said NAACP Denver Chapter spokesman Marcus Farmer.
The NAACP said African Americans made up four percent of the population in Colorado in 2010 but they accounted for about nine percent of marijuana possession arrests and 22 percent of the arrests for marijuana sales and cultivation.
In Denver, the organization said the numbers are higher with more than 31 and a half percent of arrests for adult marijuana possession.
The Colorado Drug Investigators Association has a different take on the issue. That group said if passed, the legalization of marijuana will be something voters look back on and wish they hadn’t done.
CDIA said since the legalization of medical marijuana in Colorado, there has been a 200 percent increase in teen addition to the drug.
“Over 90 percent of the arrests made for possession resulted in being there for another call for service. The arrest for marijuana was secondary to the original contact by the police officer. It’s not like law enforcement is targeting a specific sector of the public,” said CDIA President Ernie Martinez.
The NAACP said they join a number of other organizations giving support to Amendment 64. Those include the ACLU of Colorado, the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, the National Lawyers Guild and the Colorado Democratic Party.