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California: Study Say Blacks Disproportionately Arrested For Minor Marijuana Crimes

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director October 22, 2010

    From 2006 to 2008, African Americans were arrested for marijuana possession offenses in California’s 25 largest cities at at four, five, six, seven and even twelve times the rate of whites, according to a report released today by researchers at the Queens College, City University of New York and Shenandoah University in Virginia.

    Among some of the California cities profiled:

    * The City of Los Angeles, with ten percent of California’s population, arrested blacks for marijuana possession at seven times the rate of whites.

    * San Diego, the second largest city in California, arrested blacks for marijuana possession at nearly six times the rate of whites.

    * In Pasadena, blacks are 11% of the population but 49% of the people arrested for marijuana possession. Pasadena arrested blacks at twelve and a half times the rate of whites.

    * In Sacramento, the state capitol, blacks are 14% of the city’s population but more than 51% of all the people arrested for possessing marijuana.

    * San Jose, the third largest city in California, is only 2.9% African American. But San Jose arrested blacks for marijuana possession at more than five times the rate of whites. San Jose arrested 619 blacks per 100,000 blacks compared to 121 whites per 100,000 whites.

    * The City of Torrance, with a population of 140,000, had the highest racial disparity of the 25 cities. Blacks are only 2% of the population but they made up almost 24% of the people arrested for marijuana possession. Torrance arrested blacks at over thirteen times the rate for whites.

    These racially-biased marijuana arrests were a system-wide phenomenon, occurring in every county and nearly every police department in California,” the report states. “The substantial disparities in marijuana possession arrest rates of whites and blacks cannot be explained by their patterns of marijuana use. … U.S. government studies consistently find that young blacks use marijuana at lower rates than young whites.”

    From 1990 through 2009, police departments in California made 850,000 criminal prosecutions for possessing small amounts of marijuana, and half a million marijuana possession prosecutions in the last ten years, the report found.

    Today’s report is a follow up to a June 2010 study commissioned by the Drug Policy Alliance which determined that from 2004 through 2008, in every one of the 25 largest counties in California, African Americans were arrested for marijuana possession at double or triple the rates of whites.

    Full text of today’s study, “Arresting Blacks for Marijuana in California Possession — Arrests in 25 Cities, 2006-08,” is available online here.

    75 Responses to “California: Study Say Blacks Disproportionately Arrested For Minor Marijuana Crimes”

    1. Jeedi says:

      This is the #1 reason to vote for Prop 19! Racism and slavery exist in 21st century America and it must stop.

      It is sad how a few CA medical patient ‘intellectuals’ want to vote ‘no’ because there are flaws (misunderstandings) with the Prop. The reason to vote ‘yes’ for Prop 19 regardless is to end these human rights violations NOW! Waiting for a better Prop to come along allows countless African Americans (and others) to be victimized in the meantime.

    2. MCI says:

      Looking at the tenants of the prison industrial system, it’s hard not to say there isn’t any racism in this country.

      Free Medical Marijuana Program in Colorado:
      http://medicalcannabisinstitute.com/caregivers/free-medical-marijuana-program-in-colorado/

    3. Vic says:

      What is crazy is there are so many professional blacks who have or even still smoke and know its not the problem just the laws around it! But because of how we are SUPPOSE to feel about it, no one says anything and just sits back collect there money and let the rest get thrown to the DOGS!

    4. […] Pot Crimes California: Study Say Blacks Disproportionately Arrested For Minor Marijuana Crimes NORML / October 22nd, 2010 / Paul Armentano From 2006 to 2008, African Americans were arrested for […]

    5. mtlasagna says:

      and if you want confirmation look to new york city.

      no city in the world arrests more of its citizens for using mj than nyc. when i lived there many years ago, it was a progressive place. could toke comfortably in the park.

      9 of 10 arrested surprise surprise are brown skinned (mostly male). try and get a job with that on your record.

      whatever happened to that norml times square ad of a few months back?

    6. you don’t need a study to be able to tell this is the truth.. and its not just in California this is something that happens nationwide, any state that has “lenient” laws in regards to marijuana medical or even just “decriminalized” its just how it is… it sucks but its just how things are and honestly it doesn’t look like america is going to change or become more openly racially friendly which is really sad.

    7. David762 says:

      No matter how vehemently the Federal government and their minions might try to deny that Prohibition 2.0 was implemented to target minorities, or that the War on Drugs was initiated to wage a legalistic war against minorities and anti-war groups, the cacophony of statistical evidence does not lie.

      This is a war waged against the civil rights, personal freedoms, and individual liberties of the American people themselves, based upon lies, official propaganda, and non-scientific psychobabble. That so few politicians of either “mainstream” political party are willing to stand up and be counted as being in opposition to this continuing national disgrace of public policy is testament to just how close to that Corporatist | Fascist Police State that the USA has come.

      President Obama comes off as being the Corporatist “house negro” that Malcolm X (R.I.P.) so frequently referred to. I don’t know which is worse, a Democratic administration that outright lies during their political campaigns, or their Republican opposition that proudly states that they are intent upon destroying 100+ years of progressivism.

      Both are inherently evil, and neither deserve to represent We the People. Considering the imminent destruction of representative democracy in this country, in favor of a fascistic Corporatist State, both political parties should be designated as “enemy combatants” and thrown into Gitmo.

    8. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7eky4ITRX5o

      Jack Cole interviewed by Weeda Claus at the Boston Freedom Rally. Jack speaks about the racism in the “war on peaceful people”.

    9. Joel: the other Joel says:

      Marijuana prohibition is a hate crime.

    10. Anonymous says:

      YES on Proposition 19

      “From 1990 through 2009, police departments in California made 850,000 criminal prosecutions for possessing small amounts of marijuana, and half a million marijuana possession prosecutions in the last ten years, the report found.”

      I Hope and Pray The Citizens of California Vote YES 19

      As for myself, stuck in the back hole of Florida, I vote for Lewis …

      http://floridaindependent.com/9851/independent-ag-candidate-jim-lewis-calls-for-legalizing-taxing-marijuana

      Imagine a new Attorney General here in Florida

      Yes 19
      Yes Lewis

      If you don’t like the law then “CHANGE” It

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