Members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) are calling for decriminalizing marijuana, reported the Associated Press on Friday. The CBC is asking the federal government to lift its prohibition on cannabis, a move supported by an overwhelming majority of the 48-member caucus.
The lawmakers correctly cite the ongoing racial disparities in drug law enforcement and the way communities of color have been “ravaged by the failed War on Drugs” by being disproportionately “policed and convicted for drug offenses.”
This is a claim backed by the American Civil Liberties Union in a report that notes that Blacks are 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for weed possession as whites even though both groups consume at proportionally the same rates.
The Black Caucus says it supports reforms that would reduce the number of black people in prison, including the removal of marijuana from the DEA’s classification as a Schedule 1 drug, which they note will also allow needed research to be done on cannabis as a medicine.
“The CBC supports efforts to decriminalize the use and possession of marijuana,” reads the CBC’s new position statement.
“This means that the states should be allowed to make their own decisions about how to regulate marijuana and the federal government should be out of the business of prohibition and related law enforcement of marijuana.”
In a press release, CBC Chairman Cedric L. Richmond (D-LA) said: “Some of the same folks who told African Americans ‘three strikes and you’re out’ when it came to marijuana use and distribution, are now in support of decriminalizing the drug and making a profit off of it.”
The CBC is also calling for “automatic expungement for those convicted of misdemeanors for marijuana-related offenses, and an easy path to expungement for those previously convicted of felonies for marijuana-related offenses.”
“The Congressional Black Caucus supports decriminalizing marijuana and investing in communities that were destroyed by the War on Drugs – which, in addition to being a failed war, was a war on black and brown communities. We also support expunging the records of those previously convicted of misdemeanors for marijuana-related offenses.”