Black Lawmakers Condemn War On Drugs, Call For Non-Criminal Alternatives

Philadelphia, PA: Anti-drug policies that rely on criminal penalties and incarceration are ineffective and disproportionately impact African Americans, according to a resolution passed by the National Black Caucus of State Legislators at their annual Legislative Conference.

The resolution states: “The war on drugs has failed. Every community in the US contends with the harmful effects of drug misuse and related problems, and while states have continually increased their expenditures to wage the war on drugs, policies which rely heavily on arrest and incarceration have proved costly and ineffective at addressing these issues.” Lawmakers added, “The war on drugs is a major force driving the incarceration of over 2.1 million people in the United States, with African Americans disproportionately represented in our country’s overflowing jails and prisons and the war on drugs perpetuates mandatory minimums, felony disfranchisement, disproportionate over-incarceration, poor access to health care, under funded public education, widespread unemployment, and the general criminalization of communities of color in the US.”

Lawmakers said that they intend to advance drug policies that prioritize public health rather than criminal penalties, and announced the creation of a task force “to research and report on the allocation of state expenditures for all public education and health services and the war on drugs so that states can understand the real cost of the war on drugs in the state budgets and in their communities.”

For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500.