SAN FRANCISCO (KRON)—We’re just a few weeks away from Election Day and the get-out-the-vote effort is in full swing.
On Monday, the coalition of people supporting the legalization of recreational marijuana came together to make a push for that proposition.
KRON4’s Maureen Kelly reports that supporters say this is not simply about letting consenting adults get high. It’s being framed as a criminal justice issue.
State Senator Mark Leno made his arguments for the passage of Prop. 64 from inside the San Francisco office of the ACLU alongside members of the NAACP and Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom.
They say bringing the recreational marijuana market out of the shadows and into the glaring light of state regulation will bring in possibly as much as a billion dollars in tax revenue.
But they claim the state will save tens of millions of dollars annually by not having to prosecute as many pot related offenses which they say dis-proportionally affects communities of color.
“It is overwhelming the disproportional nature of the enforcement as it relates to marijuana,” Newsom said. “Disproportionate in terms of the African American community nationwide, 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for non-violent marijuana related offenses that their white counterparts. In California, you see areas in this state where Latino arrest rates are even higher than African American arrest rates.”
One of the speakers at Monday’s event was a member of law enforcement who sees another upside to Prop. 64.
“If we are going to begin to heal the relationship between police and the communities they serve, we could do every well by ending the foolish and destructive war on marijuana,” said James Anthony.
But not all cops are on board making pot legal.
Emeryville Police Chief Jennifer Tejada is with the California Police Chiefs Association that’s against the passage of Prop. 64.
Tejada says the personal use of marijuana has already pretty much been decriminalized in this state.
“Anyone who is serving time for marijuana related offenses are probably big time drug dealers who’s connected to organized crime because nobody is going to jail in today’s world for personal possession of marijuana,” Tejada said.
The Yes on Prop. 64 sides says over the last ten years, nearly half a million Californians have been arrested for non-violent pot related crimes.