By David Guard
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A national organization of African American law enforcement officers has announced its endorsement of Proposition 19, California's initiative to legalize marijuana.
The National Black Police Association (NBPA), which was founded in 1972 and is currently holding its 38th national conference in Sacramento, is urging a yes vote on legalization this November 2.
"When I was a cop in Baltimore, and even before that when I was growing up there, I saw with my own eyes the devastating impact these misguided marijuana laws have on our communities and neighborhoods. But it's not just in Baltimore, or in Los Angeles; prohibition takes a toll on people of color across the country," said Neill Franklin, a 33-year veteran police officer and executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), an international group of pro-legalization cops, judges, prosecutors and corrections officials who have been organizing to support Prop. 19. "This November, with the National Black Police Association's help, Californians finally have an opportunity to do something about it by approving the initiative to control and tax marijuana."
On Thursday, Franklin spoke alongside California NAACP president Alice Huffman at the NBPA conference on a panel about criminal justice issues like marijuana legalization.
Many cops and civil rights leaders are now speaking out against marijuana prohibition because it is not only ineffective at reducing marijuana use and results in the arrest and incarceration of people of color at a highly disproportionate rate, but also because making marijuana illegal has created a lucrative black market controlled by violent gangs and cartels. LEAP has organized a group of more than 30 California police officers, judges, prosecutors and other criminal justice professionals who support Prop. 19.
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) and its 30,000 supporters represent police, prosecutors, judges, FBI/DEA agents and others who want to legalize and regulate drugs after fighting on the front lines of the "war on drugs" and learning firsthand that prohibition only serves to worsen addiction and violence.
According to NBPA, there are 80,000 black law enforcement officials in the U.S.