Calif. NAACP endorses legalizing marijuana

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES The state's chapter of the civil rights group said blacks are unfairly targeted for marijuana-related offenses.

"It is time for them to stop using my community to populate the prison system on such minor offenses as having a joint," said Alice Huffman, president of the California chapter of the NAACP.

Huffman said because of that inequity, her organization is supporting Prop. 19.

That declaration is not sitting well with leaders of the African American community. Some say it unfairly portrays blacks as heavy marijuana users.

"Marijuana is the drug of choice for every stoner in the valley," said Joe Hicks, vice president of Community Advocates, a civil rights think tank in Los Angeles.

He criticizes the California chapter of the NAACP for making poor decisions. This latest endorsement, Hicks said, sends the wrong message to the African American community.

"If you just did a random poll of black folks on the street and said, are these the things that you would like to see this organization address itself to, I don't think you would see the decriminalization of marijuana anywhere in the list of 100 things," Hicks said.

On the streets, there was little support for the NAACP's decision.

"I think they should leave it alone," said B.J. Hill. "It's not their problem."

Michael Murrel said that if the law passed, his children might be more influenced to use marijuana.

"I have two children. I wouldn't want them to be exposed to the marijuana or being exposed that they can easily have access to it," Murrell said.

The NAACP's endorsement of Prop. 19 doesn't necessarily guarantee it any votes.

While the NAACP stood against Prop. 8, the same sex marriage ban, African Americans voted overwhelmingly in favor of it.

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