Massachusetts ACLU backs marijuana legalization, cites racial enforcement disparities

Emily Gray Brosious

aclu-massachusetts-endorses-marijuana-legalization-effort(Photo credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Massachusetts ACLU endorses marijuana legalization ballot initiative.

The Massachusetts chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has officially endorsed a ballot initiative to legalize marijuana statewide, according to a report by The Herald News.

On Friday, June 24, the organization announced its support for the Massachusetts Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, pointing to unequal enforcement of marijuana laws and racial disparities among marijuana arrest rates.

The campaign’s ballot initiative would allow adults 21 and older to purchase, possess and grow limited amounts of cannabis for personal use.

Per The Herald News:

“Legalization is the smartest and surest way to end targeted enforcement of marijuana laws in communities of color, regulate who has access to marijuana, and eliminate the costs of enforcement while generating revenue for the Commonwealth,” ACLU Massachusetts Executive Director Carol Rose said in a statement.

According to a 2013 ACLU report, black individuals in Massachusetts were 3.9 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than their white counterparts in 2010.

The organization has done extensive research on racial disparities in the enforcement of marijuana prohibition across the country, and it advocates strongly for ending the “War on Marijuana.”

Per the ACLU:

The aggressive enforcement of marijuana possession laws needlessly ensnares hundreds of thousands of people into the criminal justice system and wastes billions of taxpayers’ dollars. What’s more, it is carried out with staggering racial bias.

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See also: 7 ways the War on Drugs undermines public health

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