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July 1, 2010

New report details racial disparities in pot possession charges in California

As detailed in this press release, the Drug Policy Alliance (which advocates alternatives to the war on drugs) this week "released a report that documents widespread race-based disparities in the enforcement of low-level marijuana possession laws in California." Here are some details from the release:

Focused on the 25 largest counties in the state, t he report finds that African Americans are arrested for marijuana possession at substantially higher rates than whites, typically at double, triple or even quadruple the rate of whites. Further, blacks are arrested for marijuana possession far out of proportion to their percentage in the total population of the counties.

According to the report, “Targeting Blacks for Marijuana,” these disparities in marijuana possession arrest rates between whites and blacks cannot be explained by their patterns of marijuana use. U.S. government studies consistently find that young blacks consume marijuana at lower rates than young whites. The report was released to coincide with the official endorsement of Proposition 19, the Control and Tax Cannabis Initiative 2010, by the California State Conference of the NAACP. Proposition 19 will appear on the general election ballot November 3rd....

Led by Queens College sociologist Harry Levine, researchers studied arrest records from 2004 through 2008 in California’s 25 largest counties, home to about 90 percent of the state's population and almost all of the state's African Americans. Highlights of the report include [the finding that in] the 25 largest counties as a whole, blacks are 7% of the population but 20% of the people arrested for possessing marijuana.

The full report is available at this link.

July 1, 2010 at 10:04 PM | Permalink

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