The racially biased ‘war on marijuana’

Posted on: June 17th, 2013  |  No Comments

New federal data, included in a study by the American Civil Liberties Union, shows that the problem of racially biased arrests is far more extensive than was previously known- and is getting worse. The costly, ill-advised “war on marijuana” might fairly be described as a tool of racial oppression.

The study, based on law enforcement data from 50 states and the District of Columbia, is the most detailed of its kind so far. Marijuana arrests have risen sharply over the last two decades and now make up about half of all drug arrests in the United States. Of the more than eight million marijuana arrests made between 2001 and 2010, nearly 90 percent were for possession. There were nearly 900,000 marijuana arrests in 2010- 300,000 more than for all violent crimes combined.

This nationwide pattern is evident in all kinds of communities – urban and rural, wealthy and low income, in places where the African American populations are large and in places where they are small.

As the report notes, police officers who are targeting black citizens and black neighborhoods are turning “a comparatively blind eye to the same conduct occurring at the same rates in many white communities.”

Law enforcement agencies need to put an end to what is obviously a widespread practice of racial profiling.

via The New York Times, Editorial Board

A version of this article appeared in print on Sunday, June 16, 2013, on page 10 of The New York Times with the headline: Racially Based Arrests for Pot. The ‘war on marijuana’ has become a war on minorities

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