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California: Marijuana Infractions Unfairly Enforced Against People of Color
by via ACLU of Northern California
Wednesday Jun 1st, 2016 5:06 PM
Oakland, May 31, 2016 – New data analyses conducted by the Drug Policy Alliance and ACLU of California (see PDF) find that racial disparities in marijuana policing have persisted, following the reduction of low-level marijuana possession from a misdemeanor to an infraction in 2011. Possession of under an ounce of marijuana is punishable in California by a base fine up to $100 (plus substantial fees).
Despite marijuana usage rates being similar across racial and ethnic lines, data provided by the Los Angeles and Fresno Police Departments show that black and Latino people in those cities were issued marijuana possession citations at higher rates than white people in the years immediately following the penalty change from misdemeanor to infraction. The data also reveal that marijuana possession enforcement falls mostly on young people. In both cities, the majority of infractions were issued to persons 29 years of age and younger.

In both cities black people are issued marijuana possession infractions at nearly 4 times the rate of white people and Latinos are cited at nearly 1.5 times the rate of white people. In Los Angeles, approximately 1 in 532 black people are cited for a marijuana possession infraction as compared to 1 in 1,351 Latinos and 1 in 1,923 white people. The numbers are even more stark in Fresno, where approximately 1 out of every 200 black people are issued marijuana infractions as compared to 1 in 457 Latinos and 1 in 800 white people.

“Racial disparities in marijuana enforcement are widespread and longstanding. Los Angeles and Fresno are very different places; yet they reveal similar disparities. It’s likely that young black and Latino Californians experience these disparities statewide,” said Margaret Dooley-Sammuli, Criminal Justice and Drug Policy director for the ACLU of California. “A $100 citation can easily become several times that, after all the fees are added. This presents a significant burden for young people and low-income families.”

“It is disappointing to see that even at the level of infractions, California law enforcement are incapable of applying the law equally across racial lines,” said Alice Huffman, president of the CA-Hawaii NAACP. “I am hopeful that full legalization as proposed in the Adult Use of Marijuana Act will drastically reduce the numbers of young people of color being funneled into the criminal justice system for minor drug offenses.”

In November 2016, Californians will have the chance to vote for the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA). Voting for the AUMA will not only regulate the marijuana industry in the state but will also remove marijuana possession penalties both prospectively and retroactively for adults. For youth, these penalties will be replaced with drug treatment and education in an effort to reduce the harms associated with criminal justice involvement at an early age.

“While many may believe that marijuana is already legal in California, these data show that young adults of color continue to experience hugely disproportionate enforcement,” said Amanda Reiman, manager of Marijuana Law and Policy for the Drug Policy Alliance. “The only way to begin to unravel this legacy of disparate enforcement is to move marijuana into a fully regulated market at the statewide level.”

Learn more

Fact Sheet: Why Marijuana Decriminalization Isn't Enough

ACLU of Northern California
by via ACLU of Northern California Wednesday Jun 1st, 2016 5:06 PM
§Why is Marijuana Decriminalization Not Enough?
by Drug Policy Alliance Wednesday Jun 1st, 2016 10:14 PM
Decriminalization of marijuana possession is a necessary first step toward a more comprehensive reform of the drug prohibition regime. However decriminalization alone does not address many of the greatest harms of prohibition – such as high levels of crime, corruption and violence, massive illicit markets and the harmful health consequences of drugs produced in the absence of regulatory oversight.
§¿Por qué no basta la despenalización de la marihuana?
by Drug Policy Alliance Wednesday Jun 1st, 2016 10:18 PM
La despenalización de la posesión de la marihuana es el primer paso necesario hacia las reformas más integrales del régimen de la prohibición de drogas. Sin embargo, la despenalización en sí no resuelve muchos de los daños mayores causados por la prohibición – como las tasas altas de delincuencia, corrupción y violencia, enormes mercados ilícitos, y los daños a la salud causados por la ausencia de una supervisión reguladora. Veinte estados y el Distrito de Columbia han despenalizado la posesión de marihuana, y cuatro – Colorado, Washington, Oregon y Alaska – han comenzado a regular legalmente la venta de marihuana a los mayores de 21 años. El gobierno federal ha otorgado luz verde a los estados que deseen legalizar y regular la marihuana.
§Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA)
by AUMA Wednesday Jun 1st, 2016 10:23 PM

Join Us to Pass the Adult Use of Marijuana Act

The Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) is the consensus measure based on recognized best practices to control, regulate and tax responsible adult use, sale and cultivation of marijuana in California.

  • Adults aged 21+ will be allowed to possess marijuana, and grow small amounts at home for personal use. Sale of marijuana will be legal and highly regulated to protect consumers and kids.
  • This measure brings California’s marijuana market out into the open – much like the alcohol industry.  It will be tracked, controlled, regulated and taxed, and we will no longer be criminalizing responsible adults or incarcerating children.
  • Includes toughest-in-the-nation protections for children, our most vulnerable citizens.  
  • Protects workers, small businesses, law enforcement and local communities.  
  • According to the independent Legislative Analyst and Governor’s Finance Director, these reforms will save the state and local government up to $100 million annually in reduced taxpayer costs – and raise up to $1 billion in new tax revenues annually.
  • Majority of revenues will be allocated to:
    • Teen drug prevention and treatment
    • Training law enforcement to recognize driving under the influence of drugs
    • Protecting the environment from the harms of illegal marijuana cultivation
    • Supporting economic development in communities disproportionately impacted by marijuana prohibition
  • AUMA includes strict anti-monopoly provisions and protects small farmers, so California’s marijuana industry isn’t overrun by mega-corporations.
  • The measure builds on the bipartisan legislation signed by Governor Brown to control and regulate California’s medical marijuana industry, and is modeled after national best practices, lessons learned from other states, and the recommendations of the Lieutenant Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana Policy.