California Marijuana Enforcement 4 Times More Severe For Black People, Study Finds

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.”

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Richard Lowe

Richard Lowe is a 14-year veteran of the financial sector with licenses as a commodity broker (Series 3) and investment advisor representative (IAR Series 65). Along with a focus on raising capital for the firms he was employed with, he also wrote and edited much of the content published by them. He holds a BA in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts. He has been a longtime advocate for marijuana legalization due to the social injustices associated with marijuana prohibition and the strong potential for the medicinal benefits of cannabis.

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