Blacks Arrested For Marijuana Possession At Higher Rate Than Whites
Hmmmm…these findings are not surprising at all.
According to USA Today:
Black people are arrested for possessing marijuana at a higher rate than white people, even though marijuana use by both races is about the same, the American Civil Liberties Union reports in a new study. The analysis of federal crime data, released Tuesday, found marijuana arrest rates for blacks were 3.73 times greater than those for whites nationally in 2010. In some counties, the arrest rate was 10 to 30 times greater for blacks.
An overall increase in marijuana possession arrests from 2001 to 2010 is largely attributable to drastic increases in arrests of black people, the ACLU said. The report comes at a time when Colorado and Washington have become the first states to legalize adult possession of small amounts of non-medical marijuana. A number of states and Washington, D.C., allow medical marijuana. Federal law still prohibits its use. Some states and some cities have eased punishments for possession of smaller amounts.
Blacks were arrested at a rate of 537 per 100,000 people in 2001. In 2010, their arrest rate rose to 716 per 100,000. The 2001 number for white people was 191 per 100,000 and rose to 192 per 100,000 in 2010, the ACLU said. Despite the disparate rates, far more whites were arrested in 2010 for marijuana possession, 460,808, compared to blacks, 286,117.
Police simply operate from the standpoint that “the use of marijuana is a crime,” said Jim Pasco, executive director of the National Fraternal Order of Police, who had not yet seen the ACLU report. The ACLU supports legalization of marijuana and regulation through taxation and licensing. It also supports eliminating criminal and civil penalties for marijuana possession. If those two options are not possible, the group supports punishment for marijuana possession with only civil penalties.
The unequal arrests rates are not confined to a single U.S. region or to urban areas with larger black populations, the ACLU said. That discrepancy is found throughout the country, regardless of the size of the black population of the location and at all income levels, the data shows. African Americans living in counties with the highest median household incomes, $85,000 to $115,000, are two to eight times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites. In counties with median household incomes of $22,000 to $30,000, the arrest rate for blacks is 1.5 times to five the rate as for whites, the report said.
When it comes to marijuana use, about 14% of blacks and 12% of whites reported in 2010 that they had used the drug during the previous year, according to data that the ACLU obtained from the federal National Drug Health Survey. Among people ages 18-25, use was greater among whites.
The findings are hardly surprising to the African-American community. Ben Jealous, president and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said arrest disparities have led to mass incarceration and criminalization of African Americans. “Any arrest, even for marijuana, is a blot on someone’s record and an impediment to future jobs and opportunities,” Jealous said. “For these reasons, a number of NAACP state conferences (chapters) have supported the decriminalization of marijuana.”