In Nebraska, Black people are 3x more likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana than white people, even though all demographics use it at a similar rate. As we move to create real change though legislation, it is critical that we address one of the most significant drivers of racial injustice in law enforcement. Ending the war on marijuana and supporting sensible reforms is a no-brainer.
Arrests for something that is legal and decriminalized in states across the country create unnecessary racial bias and financial waste. In Nebraska, aggressive enforcement of low-level offenses has unnecessarily funneled thousands of people - primarily young people of color and particularly Black people – into our criminal justice system. We must update legislation to reflect that and reduce charges and sentencing related to marijuana possession and decriminalize possession entirely.
By legislation or by ballot, we also need to catch up to our sister states and legalize full adult use of marijuana and ensure legalization is paired with reforms addressing the longstanding harm marijuana enforcement has created for communities of color. Legalizing marijuana, while vital, is not enough to remedy the harms of decades of War on Drugs policies.
About this series
2021 holds the promise for meaningful change. At the start of it all is Nebraska's long 90-day legislative session. As our state senators face key issues, we need them to make the right choices. Your advocacy can help. We analyzed the hundreds of new bills that have been introduced and sorted civil rights priorities into eight categories. We call it the ACLU 8. These lists are not exhaustive and only reflect bills we've identified as top priorities or top threats. We encourage you to find your senator and tell them your priorities.