Home / News / African Americans Are Disproportionately Arrested for Low-Level Marijuana Violations—and the Disparity Is Growing

African Americans Are Disproportionately Arrested for Low-Level Marijuana Violations—and the Disparity Is Growing

Photo Credit: US Marshals Service

According to a groundbreaking 2013 report authored by the American Civil Liberties Union, African Americans in the United States are scarcely 4 times some-more likely than whites to be arrested for teenager pot possession violations. “[O]n average, a black person is 3.73 times some-more likely to be arrested for pot possession than a white person, even yet blacks and whites use pot at identical rates,” it concluded. “Such secular disparities in pot possession arrests exist in all regions of the country, in counties vast and small, civic and rural, rich and poor, and with vast and tiny black populations. Indeed, in over 96 percent of counties with some-more than 30,000 people in which at slightest 2 percent of the residents are black, blacks are arrested at aloft rates than whites for pot possession.”

In the 4 years given the announcement of that report, open opinion (and to a obtuse extent, domestic opinion) in preference of amending America’s pot penalties has shifted dramatically. Yet, according to several new analyses of pot detain data, the secular inconsistency among those criminally charged with violating the nation’s pot laws has turn some-more pronounced.

Some examples:


In Virginia, African Americans are arrested for pot possession crimes at some-more than 3 times the rate of whites, according to a 2017 research by Virginia Commonwealth University’s Capital News Service.  Since 2010, this inconsistency has risen an estimated 10 percent.

In New Jersey, blacks are arrested for pot possession crimes at 3 times the rates of whites, according to an ACLU New Jersey research published progressing this year. Since 2000, this inconsistency increasing scarcely 25 percent.

In Pennsylvania, African Americans are arrested for cannabis crimes at 6 times the rates of whites in 66 out of 67 counties (excluding Philadelphia, which decriminalized adult use possession offenses in 2014), according to an ACLU Pennsylvania analysis expelled in October. This inconsistency has mostly held solid given 2010.

In Western New York, blacks in Erie County (which includes the city of Buffalo) are 13.5 percent of the population, but contain over 71 percent of all low-level pot arrestees, according to a report expelled this month by the organisation Partnership for the Public Good. “[T]he disparities in the series of pot possession arrests can't be explained by a aloft use among black or Hispanic people,” authors concluded. “Legalizing pot would revoke low-level drug arrests by 10 percent, and help revoke secular disparities in altogether detain numbers.”

In New York City, blacks and Latinos comprised 51 percent of the population, but 86 percent of those arrested for pot possession violations during the years 2014 to 2016, according to a 2017 examination of detain information by the Drug Policy Alliance.

As these disparities grow, some politicians are observant enough. Specifically, New Jersey Gov.-elect Phil Murphy campaigned on a oath to do divided with rapist probity “policies that disproportionately aim communities of color” – such as cannabis criminalization. The incoming Democrat Governor – who replaces fervent pot prohibitionist Chris Christie – promises that enacting adult use legalization “is a 2018 priority.”

At the sovereign level, Senator Corey Booker (D-NJ) is spearheading Senate Bill 1689, Marijuana Justice Act of 2017 – arguably the many on-going and inclusive cannabis legalization magnitude ever introduced. It would mislay pot from the US Controlled Substances Act, thereby finale the sovereign criminalization of cannabis; (2) incentivize states to lessen existing racial disparities in state-level pot arrests; (3) obliterate sovereign philosophy specific to pot possession; (4) concede people now portion time in sovereign jail for marijuana-related violations to petition the justice for resentencing; (5) and create a village reinvestment fund to deposit in communities many impacted by the drug war.

“I’m the only U.S. senator we consider in the story of the country that lives in an inner-city village that is overwhelmingly primarily black and Latino,” the senator pronounced at a convene for the act in August. “I see it firsthand in the republic how we have very opposite sets of laws for opposite communities. That the fight on drugs is a fight on people, but quite it has been a fight on low income people and disproportionately a fight on minorities.”

For those communities temperament the brunt of cannabis law enforcement, the arrange of legislative changes due by Sen. Booker and Gov.-elect Murphy can't come shortly enough. Racial prejudices and fear-mongering ushered in the epoch of pot prohibition; the flourishing recognition of how pot law coercion continues to disproportionately impact those of tone ought to assist its repeal.

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