• Congressman Garrett (VA-R)

  • Gov. Chris Christy (NJ-R)

  • Colorado 2012

  • California Field Work, Prop 19

NAACP backs Republican States’ Rights Pot Proposal

The nation’s oldest civil rights organization, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), wants “swift enactment” of a Republican proposal to nullify federal drug laws.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s (R-Calif.) “Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2013” would protect marijuana users from federal prosecution in states where the drug is permitted for medical or recreational use. The bill has bipartisan support — 20 co-sponsors as of Wednesday — including tea party associated Republicans like Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), Don Young (R-Ak.), Dan Benishek (R-Mich.) and Steve Stockman (R-Texas).

The NAACP’s support might seem curious for an organization perhaps best known for battling “separate but equal” Jim Crow laws that were prevalent in Southern states until the 1960’s. Today, the organization sees states’ tolerant of marijuana use as more humane toward minorities than federal law, particularly “mandatory minimum” drug sentencing laws that have done disproportionate harm to minorities.

In a press release, the civil rights group said, “700,000 people annually are arrested in the United States for the possession of marijuana” but also that “60 percent of the people in prison are now racial and ethnic minorities.” The release also noted that “though numerous studies demonstrate that whites and African Americans use and sell marijuana at relatively the same rates, studies also demonstrate that African Americans are, on average, almost 4 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession.”

Some have called mandatory minimum sentencing laws the “new Jim Crow” including Howard Woolridge, co-founder of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP).

“The great evil in America has been drug prohibition and now the NAACP is working on this issue also. I expect much greater collaboration going forward, now that we are on the same page,” Woolridge told Rare in an email.

Woolridge added, “The NAACP’s endorsement of this bill is historic. Not only are they endorsing a bill which will lead to more states legalizing/regulating marijuana, they are urging the Congress to employ the 10th Amendment (States’ Rights) to do so. Both are firsts I am very certain.”

If the NAACP’s firm states’ rights position represents realignment in American politics, a similar shift may be happening within the GOP. Not only have some of the most conservative Republicans in the House supported Rohrabacher’s bill, but other liberals have taken notice that the most outspoken member of Congress on the issue of drug law reform is a Republican.

Tea party and libertarian hero Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was hailed by The Daily Beast’s David Freedlander in September as “one of the nation’s most articulate defenders of progressive values” specifically for his agreement with the NAACP on these issues. Reflecting on Paul as a potential 2016 presidential contender, Freedlander wrote “if you are a liberal yearning for a Democrat to speak out against the War on Drugs or the voting rights of felons, Paul is, at the moment at least, the only candidate you’ve got.”

Mr. Wallace is the host of Rare talk radio, and is a father, writer and “liberty propagandist.” He currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia. Follow him on Twitter @KurtWallace

– See more at: http://rare.us/story/naacp-backs-republican-states-rights-pot-proposal/#sthash.xcHKQeH8.dpuf

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