We have an unprecedented opportunity to express our opinions while the state government is listening!
We now have a Governor-created Task Force for Racial Equity & Criminal Justice, which is accepting comments for their goal of eliminating disparities based on skin color in the system. As we’ve been discussing through the month, we cannot ignore the racial bias inherent in cannabis prohibition, enforcement, and even access to the legal market. This is a perfect time to weigh in with our personal stories, experiences and policy recommendations at https://governor.nc.gov/issues/public-safety/trec-public-feedback-form. The form will ask you whether you are commenting on behalf of an organization. Please submit comments as an individual. The Board has submitted a comment on behalf of NC NORML - you can view that at https://www.ncnorml.org/nc-normls-public-remarks-to-the-governors-task-force-on-racial-equity-in-criminal-justice/. You will see additional options that you can choose. We encourage you to submit personal experiences if you can, or at least speak to the policies and resources. Here’s one possible angle, but please speak from the heart to have maximum influence!
“Dear Esteemed Task Force,
I appreciate the opportunity to share with you some ideas to consider. First and foremost, cannabis should be removed as cause for interaction between the police and North Carolinians. Despite similar rates of cannabis use, Black North Carolinians are far more likely to be arrested and charged with cannabis crimes. Overall, a Black person is 3.3 times more likely to be arrested for possession though the rate varies widely by county. In Dare County, a Black person is 11.8 times more likely to be arrested; Granville = 11.7 times more likely; Haywood = 11.3 times more likely; and Watauga = 11.2 times more likely.
The prohibition of cannabis gives the police greater incentive to violate our rights and less to “protect and serve” all of us.
There is nothing inherently dangerous about the adult possession or use of cannabis. We have learned from the many states who have loosened cannabis prohibition that, following legalization, opioid use, alcohol use, and alcohol-involved car crashes all decline. At this moment, our Black neighbors must not have to experience the trauma of police interaction for use and possession of plant material. Thank you.”
Our Communications Committee has been working hard to engage with you in the most impactful way. As part of that, we established monthly themes, which will be woven throughout social media, cannabis sessions, weekly nuggets, and 3rd Thursday Chats as well. July’s Theme is Racial Disparities in Enforcement of Cannabis Prohibition. If you read our Cannabis Session on this topic, you understand that enforcement of cannabis laws is very tightly linked to race. If you missed it, you can check it out https://www.ncnorml.org/a-tale-of-two-states/. To continue that theme, we will be joined by Jamie Paulen, who is a defense attorney in NC. She also served as magistrate for a few years. She will talk to us from her perspective on racial disparities in cannabis. You can also catch a quick update on NC NORML news and what is happening. Join us on YouTube or Facebook at 8PM, June 16th.
Our theme for August will be Hemp Agriculture in NC.
We love hearing your compliments and suggestions to improve, so let us know what you want to hear more about as we develop our plans for upcoming months.
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