News and culture through the lens of Southern California.
Hosted by A Martínez
Airs Weekdays 2 to 3 p.m.
Local

Why one LA pastor says recreational pot could be good for people of color




A medical marijuana patient smokes marijuana during a protest outside of the State of California building on July 18, 2011 in San Francisco, California.
A medical marijuana patient smokes marijuana during a protest outside of the State of California building on July 18, 2011 in San Francisco, California.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
A medical marijuana patient smokes marijuana during a protest outside of the State of California building on July 18, 2011 in San Francisco, California.
Troy Vaughn, pastor at Inglewood Community Church in Los Angeles
Inglewood Community Church


Listen to story

07:31
Download this story 18.0MB

The California ballot measure to legalize recreational marijuana this November has some big name backers, including Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom and Napster founder, Sean Parker.  Now a Los Angeles  pastor says he'll be voting yes on Proposition 64, too. 

Troy Vaughn is the spiritual leader at Inglewood Community Church, a predominantly black worship center  sandwiched between a mechanic's garage and a liquor store on La Brea Ave. As a recovered drug addict and a drug rehabilitation specialist who's developed programs at the local, state and national levels, Pastor Vaughn has seen first hand what he describes as the negative impact of drugs on communities of color.

"It all stems back historically to the the war on drugs" he told Take Two's A Martinez.  "So when you take away rights,  but you control consumption ...  it creates an imbalance."

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, while black and white people use pot in equal measure, African Americans are four times more likely to be arrested for pot possession.

And this is part of the reason Pastor Vaughn  says he supports Proposition 64.

"When we start looking at mass incarceration, and the engine of mass incarceration and the disparities, particularly for people of color, then we have to begin to erase some of those things in order to really correct some of the ills that society has perpetrated on people of color and communities of color."

With a congregation of around 100 members, Pastor Vaughn is clear that not everyone sees his point of view on Proposition 64. 

"My wife doesn't necessarily agree with me," he said. 

"I think there's an indoctrination and fear that there's going to be rising crime ... that, we're going to lose control of our communities, because alot of people filter the understanding of Prop. 64 through what happened with the prohibition of alcohol."

While Pastor Vaughn sees the positives of Proposition 64, he's  concerned that people of color could miss out on economic opportunities, should recreational marijuana become legal in California.

"If we don't really educate ourselves, other groups that are already coming together will really push us out of the process " said Pastor Vaughn.

While he's keen to see people of color benefit from any legislation that decriminalizes marijuana use in adults, Pastor Vaughn doesn't want to see a pot store on every corner in Inglewood.

"I'm not ... in favor of communities of color  particularly being targeted as to where we deposit all of the shops. That's not going to happen on my watch."

Series: From Gold To Green

This story is part of Take Two's special coverage on what the legalization of recreational pot could mean for California's economy, criminal justice system and society. 

Read more in this series and let us know your thoughts and questions below in the comments section or on Take Two's Facebook page.