NAACP endorses Colorado’s marijuana legalization initiative

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DENVER — Having already gained the support of one of the most conservative voices in the country, an initiative pushing Colorado lawmakers to legalize marijuana and regulate it like alcohol is currently regulated gained the support of one the country’s most liberal groups Thursday.

Saying that current marijuana regulation “results in a disproportionate number of African-Americans and other people of color being introduced into the criminal justice system,” Rosemary Harris-Lytle, president of the NAACP’s Colorado-Montana-Wyoming State Conference pledged the group’s support for Amendment 64.

“Marijuana prohibition policy does more harm to our communities than good,” Harris-Lytle said. “Amendment 64 presents a more effective and socially responsible approach to how Colorado addresses the adult use of marijuana.”

At least one conservative leader agrees.

Noted Virginia T.V.evangelist Pat Robertson told the New York Times that he believes local governments waste money arresting, prosecuting and imprisoning individuals for marijuana-related offenses.

There has also been a billboard raised near the typically-conservative city of Grand Junction stating “Pat Robertson would vote YES on 64. Will you?”

“If people can go into a liquor store and buy a bottle of alcohol and drink it at home legally, then why do we say that the use of this other substance is somehow criminal?” Robertson told the New York Times earlier this year.

The NAACP appears more interested in what it calls discriminatory practices they say drug enforcement officials display toward minorities under current marijuana legislation.

According to the NAACP, African-Americans made up about 4 percent of the population in Colorado in 2010, but accounted for 9 percent of marijuana possession arrests and 22 percent of arrests for marijuana sales and cultivation.

Colorado is one of three states where voters will consider the legalization of marijuana for recreational use.

Amendment 64 would allow adults over the age of 21 to possess small amounts of marijuana without a doctor’s recommendation. The measure would also allow commercial pot sales, with the substance being heavily taxed.