Rally to End Racially Biased Enforcement of Drug Laws

Rally Tomorrow: Community Leaders and Civil Rights Organizations Demand Legislation Must Remain a Tool to End to Racially Disparate Enforcement of Drug Laws and Unlawful Searches and Seizures 

Contact: Seema Sadanandan                                     Renate Willer
                917.403.4779                                                630.379.4801

Rally to End Racially Biased Enforcement of Drug Laws 
John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, D.C.
Tuesday, February 4, 2014 
8:45 am

WASHINGTON D.C. – A coalition of civil rights and civil liberties activists, community leaders and faith based organizations will meet on the steps of the John A. Wilson Building on Tuesday morning to call on the District of Columbia Council to vote to end racially disparate enforcement of marijuana laws.  There is a real and imminent danger that some Council members will introduce amendments that water down the bill to decriminalize marijuana and gut the legislation’s protections against racial profiling.

Most troubling, one of these amendments would permit the use of marijuana odor as a pretext to initiate stops and profile members of the community. The amendment would allow racially disparate arrests to continue unabated in the District. The current language of the bill states unequivocally that the odor of marijuana alone will not constitute reasonable suspicion; this is a critical declaration that DC will not tolerate pre-textual stops on the basis of race. DC's decriminalization bill is not just about marijuana; this bill is about racial justice and a free an safe community for all. 

The ACLU of the Nation's Capital and Washington Lawyers Committee have documented the high rate of marijuana arrests, gaping racial disparities in marijuana arrests, and wasteful spending on marijuana enforcement policies in the District. Passing the Marijuana Possession Decriminalization Amendment Act of 2014 without amendments -- in the form approved by the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety -- is a necessary first step towards ending racial profiling and selective law enforcement in the District.  

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