Minnesota NORML, the state affiliate of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws is holding a press conference on Monday, April 6, 2015, 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM at the Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis to announce their campaign to Make Cannabis the Lowest Level Enforcement Priority (LLEP) and to call thousands of Minnesotans to rally at the State Capitol for their second annual lobby day, Yes, We Cannabis! \n Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and most Minneapolis City Council members have stated repeatedly that reducing racial disparities is a top priority for the city. In October 2014, the ACLU released a report showing that African Americans are 11.5 times more likely to be arrested in Minneapolis for cannabis possession than European Americans, despite relatively equal usage rates, and a population comprised of 65% White residents compared to 20% Black residents.1 While possession of <1.5 ounces (42.5g) of cannabis is currently a petty misdemeanor in Minnesota, the fact that it is a criminal citation means there are far-reaching collateral consequences that do not fit the so-called ‘crime’ committed. Possession of >1.5 ounces of cannabis or any miniscule amount of cannabis concentrates in Minnesota is a felony. Because citations often show up on background checks, men and women with petty misdemeanors for cannabis possession on their records can lose job, housing and higher education opportunities that others take for granted. Without a doubt, not being able to get a job, housing or pay for higher education sustains and worsens socioeconomic and racial disparities in Minneapolis. Making cannabis the Lowest Level (Law) Enforcement Priority (LLEP) is one way to greatly reduce racial arrest disparities in Minneapolis, Minnesota’s largest city. \n “Cannabis is not dangerous, but the prohibition of it is! Criminalizing cannabis is senseless because it’s the 3rd most popular recreational drug in the U.S. and by far the safest. Cannabis has many therapeutic benefits as an alternative medicine that has never killed anyone, unlike legal alcohol, tobacco and many Big Pharma drugs. The war against cannabis has disenfranchised millions of American consumers and tens of thousands of Minnesotans, but it has not stopped demand, cannot eliminate supply, does not serve the interest of public safety, and it’s a massive waste of taxpayer money which fosters for-profit policing. Ending the foolish prohibition of America’s #1 cash crop would save lives and benefit Minnesota’s economy prosperously. The marijuana arrest disparities in Minneapolis characterize the failed war as structurally racist. MN NORML is launching this campaign to stop marijuana arrests now as an incremental step towards full legalization. Since 2003, 15 other U.S. cities, including Seattle, Washington, Portland, Oregon and Denver, Colorado have passed LLEP policies. We hope the Minneapolis LLEP campaign will be replicated in cities and towns throughout the state as we work to build a statewide, grassroots campaign for full legalization. We’ll also be rallying for the second year at the Minnesota State Capitol and we call on the Marijuana Majority to join us on 4/20!” \n In 2013, Minnesota taxpayers wastefully spent $140,000,000 arresting nearly 12,000 Minnesotans, and harassing countless others, with the highest number in Minneapolis, and the average cannabis arrest costing >$11,000.4 It is senseless to waste law enforcement resources criminalizing and disenfranchising Minnesotans for possession of cannabis. 60% of Minneapolitans are in favor of full legalization.5 The City of Minneapolis’ own Community Indicators Project ranked LLEP the third highest issue of 194 issues to improve our city, submitted by residents for consideration of City staff, and LLEP was highest ranking in the ONE Minneapolis (equity) category.6 Enacting theLLEP cannabis policy in Minneapolis is a politically safe, smart move for the City Council and it would indicate their serious commitment to reducing extreme racial disparities. Fifteen other cities and a county in the United States have directed their law enforcement officers to make cannabis possession their Lowest Level Enforcement Priority.7 In Seattle, for instance, cannabis arrests dropped by nearly 75% in the first six months after the policy went into effect. This also means that law enforcement officers can spend more time and resources investigating violent crimes and property crimes, i.e. real crime. It’s time to stop marijuana arrests in Minneapolis NOW! \n JOIN US AT OUR PRESS CONFERENCE \n WHEN: Monday, 4.06.2015, 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM \n WHERE: Hennepin County Government Center, located at 300 South 6th Street, 55487 \n NOTE: — Depending on weather conditions, we will either meet on the outdoor steps facing Minneapolis City Hall, overlooking the fountain on 5th Street between 3rd Avenue and 4th Avenue, OR inside on the second floor near the entrance to the court system. \n SAVE THE DATE FOR YES, WE CANNABIS! \n WHEN: Monday, 4.20.2015, 1:00 PM – 3:30 PM \n WHERE: Christ Lutheran Church on Capitol Hill, located at 105 University Ave W, St. Paul 55103 \n Join hundreds of Minnesotans at our second annual rally at the Capitol to demand that our state legislators end the senseless, failed and structurally racist war against cannabis consumers, i.e. cannabis prohibition. We’ll present a diverse line-up of speakers to testify in favor of the establishment of a fully legalized, regulated and reasonably taxed cannabis industry and personal home cultivation rights. \n The imperatives of full legalization of cannabis include: \n Civil liberties \n Social and racial justice \n Public health \n Law enforcement integrity, accountability and effectiveness \n Public safety \n Economic development \n #LegalizeItMN \n #FreeEnterpriseItMN \n About MN NORML: \n MN NORML is a nonprofit 501c(4) member-based advocacy organization founded in 2011 with a mission to repeal Minnesota’s marijuana prohibition laws so that responsible adult use is no longer subject to penalty. MN NORML is advocating for full legalization of cannabis with a regulated, reasonably taxed cannabis industry and consumer rights for personal home cultivation. MN NORML currently has 6,500 members throughout the state of Minnesota and plans to grow its membership through community organizing to exceed 10,000 members by the end of 2015 and 20,000 members by the end of 2016. \n Contact: Marcus Harcus 612.749.4332 or marcus @mnnorml.org \n \n MAKE CANNABIS THE LOWEST LEVEL ENFORCEMENT PRIORITY (LLEP) \n For more information about the public policy we’re working to pass for our Campaign to Stop Marijuana Arrests in Minneapolis , click on the following links to view our campaign brochures: \n Lowest Level Enforcement Priority – brochure 1 \n Lowest Level Enforcement Priority – brochure 2 \n \n CLICK HERE TO VIEW and SIGN OUR ONLINE LLEP PETITION! \n Click the following Facebook event page links for two 4/20 rallies near the Minnesota State Capitol: \n MN NORML’s Yes, We Cannabis! Capitol Rally for Full Legalization \n INDEPENDENT 4.20 Capitol Rally for Full Legalization \n Please become a member, VOLUNTER and/or DONATE today and help us build the organizational capacity needed to win a difficult fight to end the war against cannabis consumers. MN NORML is organizing a statewide, grassroots campaign advocating for #FullLegalization!