Minnesota NORML Campaigns to Stop Marijuana Arrests
April 1st, 2015
Policy, Top News
Minnesota NORML, the Minnesota affiliate of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (“NORML”), recently announced that it would hold a press conference on Monday, April 6, 2015 at 12:00PM to 1:00PM at the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis to launch their campaign, Make Cannabis the Lowest Level Enforcement Priority (“LLEP”).
In October, the American Civil Liberties Union (“ACLU”) released a report showing that African Americans were 11.5x more likely to be arrested in Minneapolis for cannabis possession than European Americans, despite relatively equal usage rates and a population consisting of 65% White residents versus only 20% Black residents.
These dynamics are problematic for a number of reasons. While possession of less than 1.5 ounces of cannabis is only a petty misdemeanor, the citations show up on background checks, which can result in job loss or discrimination. The lack of a job, housing, or higher education funding makes it difficult for marijuana-related offenders to improve their socioeconomic status.
“Cannabis is not dangerous, but the prohibition is,” said Minnesota NORML Executive Director Marcus Harcus in a report on TheWeedBlog. “Criminalizing cannabis is senseless because it’s the third most popular recreational drug in the U.S. and by far the safest. Cannabis has many therapeutic benefits as an alternative medicine that has never killed anyone, unlike legal alcohol, tobacco, and many Big Pharma drugs.”
In Minnesota, the average cannabis arrest costs more than $11,000 with approximately $140 million spent arresting 12,000 citizens in 2013 alone. The LLEP initiative could significantly reduce these costs and improve equality in Minneapolis, while setting an example for other states to follow.
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