6/10/2011 – Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. will deliver a keynote speech at a gathering of prominent black leaders who are calling for an end to criminal drug prohibition. The Institute of the Black World 21st Century (IBW) will meet at the National Press Club in Washington DC on June 17, 2011. The date marks 40 years since President Nixon signed an executive order starting the “War on Drugs.”
Top-level policy makers will be presenting at the event such as Congressman John Conyers Jr. (D-MI), Congressman Robert “Bobby” Scott (D-VA) and Dr. Elise Scott, the President of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. Some of the lecturers in the afternoon program are: Deborah Small at Break the Chains, Neill Franklin at Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Jasmine Tyler, the Deputy Director of National Affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance.
IBW President Dr. Ron Daniels, spoke with Freedomigreen via telephone about why he is leading this effort to shift drug policy.
“We want to expand the conversation about the devastating effects of the war on drugs in general,” said Dr. Daniels. “We are acutely concerned on its impact in black communities across the country. Having this national forum and being involved with other groups is really trying to push for alternatives.”
How about legalizing marijuana?
“I think we need to put everything on the table. In New York City there have been over 50, 000 arrests for marijuana just in the last year. Once you are in the system there are records that can affect you. When you look at the damage that is done to people – they are not addicts – but they end up in jail with a mark they can’t erase from the record. It is really harming our people in an amazing way.”
Daniels added, “If there is a drug that could be legalized… marijuana is the least dangerous to people. I’m not advocating that people use drugs at all, even alcohol. But we need to take out the criminal aspect.”
There were 858,408 Americans are arrested for marijuana violations in 2009; more than for all other illegal drugs combined. There is a striking racial disparity to pot arrests in New York, Philadelphia and other cities. Well over 80% of the marijuana arrests in these urban settings are young black men.
More from the interview with Dr. Daniels will be posted next week.
Chris Goldstein is a respected marijuana reform advocate. As a writer and radio broadcaster he has been covering cannabis news for over a decade. Questions? [email protected]