Proposition 19, the California marijuana legalization initiative, picked up the support yesterday of a national organization that represents African American police officers, as the campaign for legalization continues to try to build support in the black community and among law enforcement officials, the Los Angeles Times reports. The National Black Police Association, with 15,000 members, is the second African American organization to back the measure. The California NAACP has also endorsed it, citing the disproportionate arrest and incarceration of African Americans caught with marijuana. Ron Hampton, the police association's executive director, said he decided the group should get behind the measure because it would eliminate laws that have a negative impact on the black community.
Hampton said that the money being spent on the war on drugs could be better spent on education, housing and creating jobs. “It just seemed like to me that we have been distracted in this whole thing,” he said. “We can take that money, and focus and concentrate on things that really make a difference in our community.” Neill Franklin, a retired police officer and the executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, and Alice Huffman, the state NAACP's president, spoke on a panel at the black police association's conference in Sacramento on Thursday. “I saw with my own eyes the devastating impact these misguided marijuana laws have on our communities and neighborhoods,” said Franklin, who is black and who worked in law enforcement for 33 years. Proposition 19 would allow people 21 years old and over to grow marijuana and possess up to an ounce.