National ACLU Report Highlights Racial Disparity in Marijuana Arrests

Jun 04, 2013

ACLU, law enforcement, marijuana, Research, Tax and Regulate

ACLU Arrest DataDespite the fact that black and white Americans use marijuana in comparable numbers, a new analysis of federal data performed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) found that blacks were nearly four times as likely as whites to be arrested for marijuana possession in 2010. The report is the most comprehensive national examination of marijuana arrests by race and by county.

According to the ACLU:

"The aggressive enforcement of marijuana possession laws needlessly ensnares hundreds of thousands of people into the criminal justice system and wastes billions of taxpayers’ dollars. What’s more, it is carried out with staggering racial bias. Despite being a priority for police departments nationwide, the War on Marijuana has failed to reduce marijuana use and availability and diverted resources that could be better invested in our communities."

The statistics in Washington, D.C. and Maryland were particularly staggering. The former had the country’s highest arrest rate for marijuana possession arrests – more than three times the national average – and the latter had the fourth highest rate. Blacks accounted for 91% of possession arrests in D.C. and were more than eight times more likely to be arrested than whites. In Maryland, blacks accounted for 58% of possession arrests and were more than three times more likely to be arrested than whites. In Baltimore City, they were more than five-and-half times likely to be arrested than whites.

The disproportionality of marijuana enforcement is just one more pebble on the mountain of evidence that exposes our nation’s marijuana policy for what it is: broken.