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Minnesota: African Americans Six Times More Likely Than Whites To Be Arrested For Marijuana Possession

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director April 21, 2014

    African Americans are arrested for marijuana possession offenses in Minnesota at a rate that is more than six-times higher than that of Caucasians, according to an analysis of 2011 FBI arrest data released today by the nonpartisan think-tank Minnesota 2020 and commissioned in part by Minnesota NORML.

    Although African Americans comprise less than six percent of the state’s population, they represented over 27 percent of those persons arrested for violating marijuana possession laws in 2011. By comparison, whites comprise some 87 percent of the state’s population and constituted 69 percent of those arrested for violating marijuana possession laws. “Thus, the black arrest rate for marijuana possession was 687 and the white arrest rate was 107, making blacks 6.4 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites,” the study found.

    In 2010, blacks in Minnesota were arrested for cannabis possession at 7.8 times the rate of whites. Both African Americans and Caucasians consume cannabis at approximately similar rates.

    The racial disparity in Minnesota in marijuana possession arrests is significantly higher than the national average. According to a 2013 analysis of marijuana possession arrests by race in 945 counties nationwide, blacks are approximately four times as likely as whites to be arrested for marijuana possession.

    “[This] kind of over-representation cannot be accounted for without racial bias,” Minnesota 2020 Executive Director Steve Fletcher said today at a press conference. “It means black Minnesotans are bearing a disproportionate share of the personal and collateral costs of our war on drugs.”

    A variety of factors contribute to the disparity in arrest rates, the study found. These include “over-policing in communities of color, cultural differences in where or how marijuana is used and purchased, and [the prevalence] of grants and seizure policies that incentivize volume over quality in drug arrests,” the think-tank acknowledged in a press release.

    The report estimated that the collateral costs of a low-level marijuana arrest may total as much as $76,000 over the course of a decade, including attorney fees, fines, costs associated with attending mandatory drug treatment, lost income and job prospects, and barriers to public assistance and federal aid.

    “In light of these human and financial costs, Minnesota lawmakers and law enforcement officials have a responsibility to consider whether marijuana possession laws in their current conception are actually contributing to public safety, or if they are instead producing undue hardship for individuals and growing inequities within society,” the study concludes.

    Full text of the study, entitled “Collateral Costs: Racial Disparities and Injustice in Minnesota’s Marijuana Laws,” is available online here.

    17 Responses to “Minnesota: African Americans Six Times More Likely Than Whites To Be Arrested For Marijuana Possession”

    1. Mary Jane says:

      They say “whites” just fine but they’re too politically correct to say “blacks”?

    2. mexweed says:

      I noticed that both individual (the person arrested) and social (society spending money to arrest someone) costs appear to be combined into this single figure of $76,000, would be interesting to know the relative size of the two parts.

    3. Mary Jane says:

      I noticed that they had no problem saying “whites” but were too politically correct to say “blacks.” Make sure to let your guilt shine through by deleting this comment again. Gotta love censorship.

      [Paul Armentano responds: FYI: The terms ‘African Americans’ and ‘blacks’, as well as the terms ‘Caucasians’ and ‘whites’ are each used interchangeably in the text of this post, e.g.:

      “In 2010, blacks in Minnesota were arrested for cannabis possession at 7.8 times the rate of whites. Both African Americans and Caucasians consume cannabis at approximately similar rates.”

      “The racial disparity in Minnesota in marijuana possession arrests is significantly higher than the national average. According to a 2013 analysis of marijuana possession arrests by race in 945 counties nationwide, blacks are approximately four times as likely as whites to be arrested for marijuana possession.”]

    4. Gutter Butter says:

      Mary Jane ur an idiot.

    5. The Ghost of Harry Anslinger says:

      Just the way I planned it.

    6. Evening Bud says:

      Mary Jane, it takes a while–about a day it seems–for the editors to post a person’s comments. So, you may have thought they were censoring your first post when you wrote your second.

    7. Ray says:

      I don’t care what color you are, but $76,000 is a big hole to get out of. If that money could be better spent on education than every person of every race would be able to afford a higher level of education. (Pun intended).

      “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

      “..whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.” – Our Declaration of Independence

      It’s time to vote out the rat turds in office and give everyone the opportunity to find their happiness.

    8. Galileo Galilei says:

      Has there ever been a study anywhere that showed whites were arrested more often than blacks?

    9. JEAN FLEMING says:

      IT’S TRUE. I MADE A MOVIE ABOUT MARIJUANA AND DID CONSIDERABLE RESEARCH ON THIS SUBJET.IT’S CALLED “SMOKE SCREEN” I AM A MEDICAL MARIJUANA USER.

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