New Report Shows Huge Racial Disparities in Marijuana Arrests

By Taahira Thompson, a Summer 2013 intern at The Leadership Conference Education Fund

The American Civil Liberties Union recently published “The War on Marijuana in Black and White.” It is the first report that analyzes The War on Marijuana at state and national levels and highlights its dangerous effects on people of color.

In recent years, the hard push for laws against marijuana has clogged up the criminal justice system, and American taxpayers are footing the bill for it. It costs the United States government billions of dollars to process the overwhelming number of drug arrests, over half of which are for marijuana possession.

Even more appalling are the stark racial differences in arrest numbers. While usage rates between White and Black Americans are about the same, Black people are nearly four times more likely to be arrested for possession of the substance.

“State and local governments have aggressively enforced marijuana laws selectively against Black people and communities, needlessly ensnaring hundreds of thousands of people in the criminal justice system at tremendous human and financial cost,” said Ezekiel Edwards, an author of the report.

It’s clear that current laws concerning marijuana are ineffective and strongly detrimental to communities of color. Go to the ACLU’s website for more information about the report and ways to take action.