LOS ANGELES

Black Vote Could Tilt Balance In Legalizing Marijuana

09/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Ron Allen says he knows all too well the ravages of drug addiction.

"I was a pastor on crack cocaine, sir," said Mr. Allen, who says he has been sober for 11 years and now identifies himself as the bishop of the International Faith Based Coalition, in Sacramento. "Drugs have no religious preference."

And while crack cocaine laid him low, Mr. Allen says his first drug of choice was marijuana. So it is that Mr. Allen and a cadre of other African-American pastors, priests and other religious leaders have bonded together in recent weeks to fight what they see as a potentially devastating blow to their communities: Proposition 19, the California ballot measure that would tax and regulate marijuana.

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