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NEW: New England NAACP Calls for Marijuana Legalization in RI

Monday, March 03, 2014


The New England Area Conference of the NAACP announced today that it is formally recommending to the Rhode Island General Assembly that it pass the Marijuana, Regulation, Control and Taxation Act, H7506 and S2379.

According to the release from the NAACP, it recommends passage for the following reasons:

See New England NAACP Reasons for Marijuana Legalization in RI BELOW

1) For more than seven decades, arresting marijuana users has failed to prevent marijuana use.

2) There is an alarming racial disparity in marijuana arrests in Rhode Island and across the United States. African Americans continue to be arrested at nearly three and one half (3 ½) times the rate of Whites. Even though the NAACP and many other advocates have called for an end in the disparate arrest of African Americans for marijuana use and possession, the alarming disparate arrest rate continues unabated. These arrest rates reflect differential treatment by law enforcement officers since the rate of use between African Americans and White is roughly the same. There appears to be no near term solution for the race based arrest of African American marijuana users by law enforcement officers.

3) In 2012, the NAACP called for law enforcement priorities and investments shift from primary low-level, small-scale drug offenses to violent, organized crime, drug and gun traffickers, in order to reduce harm associated with the illicit drug market. Such advocacy by the NAACP has failed to result in meaningful change.

4) In 2012, the NAACP also found that low-level, non-violent drug possession crimes produce a lifetime of consequences for incarcerated drug offenders.

5) In 2011, the NAACP found that funds that should go into education and health are diverted to the war on drugs leaving public schools struggling and underfunded.

6) Also in 2011, the NAACP found that the war on drugs had failed and, the NAACP has consistently advocated for federal, state and local governments to repeal the war on drugs and institute in its place a public health approach that concentrates on reducing drug abuse and its destructive consequences.


Related Slideshow: New England States with Highest Marijuana Arrest Rates

Prev Next

6. Massachusetts

National Rank for Arrests per Capita: 51

2010 Arrests Per Capita: 18

National Rank for Raw Arrests: 49

2010 Raw Arrests: 1,191

Photo: Flickr/Blind Nomad

Prev Next

5. Vermont

National Rank for Arrests per Capita: 48

2010 Arrests Per Capita: 119

National Rank for Raw Arrests: 51

2010 Raw Arrests: 737

Photo: Flickr/Victor

Prev Next

4. New Hampshire

National Rank for Arrests per Capita: 33

2010 Arrests Per Capita: 210

National Rank for Raw Arrests: 41

2010 Raw Arrests: 2,769

Photo: Flickr/Blind Nomad

Prev Next

3. Rhode Island

National Rank for Arrests per Capita: 31

2010 Arrests Per Capita: 214

National Rank for Raw Arrests: 43

2010 Raw Arrests: 2,243

Prev Next

2. Maine

National Rank for Arrests per Capita: 30

2010 Arrests Per Capita: 214

National Rank for Raw Arrests: 40

2010 Raw Arrests: 2,842

Prev Next

1. Connecticut

National Rank for Arrests per Capita: 23

2010 Arrests Per Capita: 247

National Rank for Raw Arrests: 25

2010 Raw Arrests: 8,815

Prev Next

Number One Overall

Washington D.C.

National Rank for Arrests per Capita: 1

2010 Arrests Per Capita: 846

National Rank for Raw Arrests: 34

2010 Raw Arrests: 5,115

Photo: Flickr/Torben Hansen


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deaths from drug overdoses in the last 2 months in RI up to 56.

the station night club was 100.

running at about one every day.

I bet every one of those people started with pot and never thought they would do anything else.

very sad. my condolences to the friends and family of those lost.

just curious what the supporters of this legislation have to say about all that.

Comment #1 by john paycheck on 2014 03 03

There's no evidence that marijuana will make a person more likely to try other harder drugs. I say that as a recovering heroin addict myself who started on softer drugs like alcohol and yes, marijuana. What happened to me is the exception, not the rule.

Marijuana is often called a “gateway drug” by supporters of prohibition, who point to statistical “associations” indicating that persons who use marijuana are more likely to eventually try hard drugs than those who never use marijuana – implying that marijuana use somehow causes hard drug use. But a model developed by RAND Corp. researcher Andrew Morral demonstrates that these associations can be explained “without requiring a gateway effect.” More likely, this federally funded study suggests, some people simply have an underlying propensity to try drugs, and start with what’s most readily available. [Morral AR, McCaffrey D and Paddock S. Reassessing the Marijuana Gateway Effect. Addiction. December 2002. p. 1493-1504.] In 2006, The American Journal of Psychiatry said, “the likelihood that someone will transition to the use of illegal drugs is determined not by the preceding use of a particular drug, but instead by the user’s individual tendencies and environmental circumstances.” And in 2010, the Journal of Health and Social Behavior said, ”It really didn’t matter if someone used marijuana or not as a teen” in predicting their use of hard drugs.

The apparent gateway effect might even be caused by prohibition. The blending of the hard and soft drug markets often causes people who were initially only interested in buying marijuana to be introduced to harder drugs. Dealers often won't sell just one product. Nobody thinks of cigarettes and alcohol as gateway drugs because there’s no heroin next to them in the store.


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Rebellon, C. J., and K. Van Gundy. "Can Social Psychological Delinquency Theory Explain the Link between Marijuana and Other Illicit Drug Use? A Longitudinal Analysis of the Gateway Hypothesis." Journal of Drug Issues 36, no. 3 (2006): 515-39.

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Scavone, Jillian L., Robert C. Sterling, Stephen P. Weinstein, and Elisabeth J. Van Bockstaele. "Impact of Cannabis Use During Stabilization on Methadone Maintenance Treatment." The American Journal on Addictions 22, no. 4 (2013): 344-51.

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Tarter, Ralph E., Levent Kirisci, Ada Mezzich, Ty Ridenour, Diana Fishbein, Michelle Horner, Maureen Reynolds, Galina Kirillova, and Michael Vanyukov. "Does the “Gateway” Sequence Increase Prediction of Cannabis Use Disorder Development Beyond Deviant Socialization? Implications for Prevention Practice and Policy." Drug and Alcohol Dependence 123, Supplement 1, no. 0 (6// 2012): S72-S78.

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Comment #2 by Mike Davis on 2014 03 04

nobody ever o'd on pot. people move on to harder stuff because they want to, not because they're stoned.

Comment #3 by Odd Job on 2014 03 04

John, I bet all those people also drank alcohol. Maybe a lot smoked cigarettes. Heck, they probably all ate junk food. Based on your logic, these could also be the "gateway" to their demise.

Comment #4 by Gail Johnson on 2014 03 04

I think a case can be made that using marijuana recreationally is a bad idea but the "war on drugs" is even worse as it criminalizes and imprisons too many, costs too much, fails to stop drug use, enriches the worst elements, and undermines respect for the rule of law.

Comment #5 by barry schiller on 2014 03 05

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.