The division among California voters over the marijuana legalization initiative is especially true for black voters, NPR reports. The California NAACP has endorsed Proposition 19, but some black religious leaders fear that passing the ballot measure would only hurt already struggling communities. Bishop Ron Allen, founder of the International Faith Based Coalition, has been fighting drug abuse in Sacramento’s Oak Park area for years. He opposes Proposition 19.
“I don’t believe that the blacks are targeted. I need to say that upfront,” Allen says. He says most blacks are not in jail over pot charges, so legalizing marijuana will not fix racial inequalities in the justice system. Alice Huffman, president of California’s NAACP, argues that Proposition 19 would improve Oak Park. “Once this drug is legalized, there’ll be no need for these little gangbangers to be out here, killing each other over drug turf, over the cash that they get. Maybe we can take that money and give them some training and give them some jobs,” she says.