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

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 thoughts

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

  2. 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. 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. 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.

  5. 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.

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


  8. It’s weird. Out of everyone I know of who has been arrested for cannabis about ~ten people(including myself), none were black. I have met a few blacks arrested for cocaine, though.

  9. Question, is the percentage of marijuana smokers in Minnesota skewed towards the blacks? Meaning, does a higher percentage of blacks smoke marijuana than the percentage of whites? If so, it would make sense. If not, well, we clearly have an issue. 🙂

    [Editor’s note: Consistent with cannabis use reports in other states, Minnesota’s minority community uses cannabis less than caucasians…affirming law enforcement’s bias.]

  10. LEO have been integrated for decades. How old is this data. With a black president, after 6 years in office, statistical manipulation of arrest and incarceration data is only cleared by a visit to a facility and seeing it first hand. You just have to submit to a search before your get to see what is inside.

  11. Does this have anything to do with there being more black dealers than white dealers in MN? I personally have only ever had white dealers but if more blacks are dealing, they would have more marijuana on them when they got caught, compared to a typical user that got caught, and qualify for arrest wouldn’t they? I’m not trying to justify how law enforcement treat people who get caught with drugs, or anything like that but if it were true that there are more black dealers in the state, you would expect the results of the study. Just a thought, any feedback would be sweet! thanks

    [Editor’s note: In no state are there data that support premise of disproportionate numbers of blacks selling cannabis to whites. Also, 90% of all cannabis arrests are for possession–not sales or cultivation.]

  12. Frightning isnt it?
    To know that no matter how far we get away from being thrown into a catagory , when our feet hit the ground, were all still alittle dirty for something……
    Meaning ….
    Cannabis was thrown under the bus for racial profiling, but yet there are no blacks, or afican americans , coloreds or how ever your part of the world says it these days…… in reefer madness…….its the whites who demonized cannabis to be this monster problem who turns blacks into a white ,shadow stepping, haters in the first place…..

    Either we stand together or we all fall till there is no one left standing,,,,,,but in the end our results are from either our hard work or lack of , but the more we allow ourselves to become segragated over our skin color, the less freedoms we are going to be allowed…


    As always
    thanks for reading

  13. How would the Ghost of Harry Anslinger like to know that 1 in 8 so called “white” Americans… as well as any European… have blood lineage to a dark-skinned Asian man named Genghis Khan? Albeit, he was a genocidal racist in his own right, but… He was brown.
    Come to think of it, Harry had a fairly Mongoloid face…;-)
    Oh, and Africans werent enslaved because they were “degenerate races.” It turns out West Africans were more resistant to malaria, making them genetically superior to the cheaper Scottish and Irish slaves who couldn’t last three months in the fields. Once industrialized machinery diminished the demand for slave labor after the Civil War, unjustified incarceration became the new supply of minority slave labor.
    Today, we just fill prisons with non violent posession crimes to meet a tax-payer funded quota. The resulting fabrication of violence in minority youth has a reciprocating effect on young white youths who are rewarded for “affluent” behavior such as more violent drug abuse and addictions. Even worse, the overprescribed pharmacuetical agenda of diagnosing any hyper or agressive behavior in young children that attend relatively wealthier schools are targeted by doctors and councilors who gain commissions for hooking children on anti-depressants like zanex or pain killers with potentially violent side effects.
    In short, as a result of pharmacuetical targeting of more affluent, sometimes more white communuties with sustained access to dangerous quantities of prescription medications, more violent crimes are emerging in these communities, just as we witness decriminalization measures reduce crime or at least arrests in traditionally poorer, black neighborhoods like in Washington D.C.
    I wonder if Harry Anslinger could have predicted such a phenomenon? Any violence, whether sanctioned by Big Pharma or the C.S.Act, is morally wrong. Our younger generations are much more capable, thanks to social media, to predict how racial or socioeconomic agendas potentially harm us all by reducing diverse, safe and healthy environments.

  14. Yes, minority communities are more likely to be policed because rayciss. Let us not mention disparities in crime rates.

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