SF Gate reports:
Marijuana laws may have eased up throughout the years, but a new study shows that minorities are being punished more than ever for possessing cannabis.
In racial data obtained from the cities of Los Angeles and Fresno, experts from the Drug Policy Alliance and the ACLU of California found that black citizens get cited for pot possession at about four times the rate of whites, the Huffington Post reports.
In fact, the racial disparity seems to be worse since cannabis law reform came to pass in California.
“The disparity is worse than the rates at which blacks were arrested for simple possession of marijuana prior to 2011, when possession was a misdemeanor offense,” said Amanda Reiman, California Policy Manager of the Drug Policy Alliance. “In 2010, black were 2.2 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession.”
Latinos are also arrested 1.7 times more than white people in Fresno and 1.4 times more in Los Angeles, despite similar usage levels throughout the two cities’ black, white, and Latino populations. The DPA contends that the rate could actually be much higher, however.
“California has a long history of data collection challenges regarding Latinos, who are often classified by law enforcement officers as white and thus undercounted,” said Reiman.
Reiman believes that AUMA, California’s upcoming ballot initiative to legalize marijuana, could do a lot to end the racial imbalance.
“It’s far past time to stop the bleeding of prohibition that has been centered in our most vulnerable communities, and legalize cannabis in California,” said Reiman. “Once we move cannabis into a regulated market, we can slowly dress the wound left by decades of disparate enforcement.”