The NAACP is standing behind a bill that would legalize marijuana in Pennsylvania. The NAACP announced Tuesday their support of Senator Daylin Leach’s (D-Montgomery/Delaware) Senate Bill 528. The bill would legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana in Pennsylvania.
“We spend $350 million a year in Pennsylvania just on the arrest, incarceration and monitoring of people for marijuana-related offenses. We can save all of that if we ended prohibition. Plus, we could tax this and gain revenue,” said Senator Leach.
Senator Leach says it will be a tough sell but he is happy to have the support of the NAACP. The organization says money and resources need to be focused on more serious crimes and offenders.
“The war on drugs is a catastrophic failure particularly on people of color,” said David Scott. Scott is a 31- year old veteran of law enforcement and currently works with the NAACP in Montgomery County. “So much money and resources have been spent on the war on drugs while there is an alarming while there is a lack of funds for Philadelphia and school systems in general. An ACLU report estimated in just 2010, one year, one hundred million dollars was taken from Pennsylvania taxpayers just to enforce marijuana possession,” said Scott.
Scott says current laws are biased against minorities. “In Pennsylvania, blacks are 5.2 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana than whites. Even though they use drugs at the same rate,” said Scott.
The bill has been forwarded to the health committee. Senator Leach says he hopes they hold a hearing on the bill and it gets passed along to the Senate for a vote.