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.