Study: Racial Disparity In Marijuana Arrest Rates Increasing

Cannabis PenaltiesAfrican Americans in Virginia are arrested for violating marijuana possession laws at more than three times the rates of whites and this disparity is rising, according to an analysis of statewide arrest data by Virginia Commonwealth University’s Capital News Service.

Researchers reviewed 160,000 state and local arrest records from the years 2010 through 2016. They found that blacks were 2.9 times as likely as whites to be arrested for possessing marijuana in 2010, but 3.2 times as likely to be arrested by 2016.

In some counties and towns, such as in Hanover County and in Arlington, Virginia, the black arrest rate was six to eight times that of whites.

The findings are similar to those of a 2015 report, which determined that the number of African Americans arrested in Virginia for marijuana possession offenses increased 106 percent between the years 2003 and 2014. That study concluded that blacks account for nearly half of all marijuana possession arrests, but comprise only 20 percent of the state population.

A separate analysis of Maryland arrest data determined that African Americans accounted for 58 percent of all marijuana possession arrested despite comprising only 30 percent of the state’s population.

A 2016 analysis of California arrest figures concluded that police arrested blacks for marijuana offenses at three and half times the rate of whites. A prior statewide assessment reported that police in 25 of California’s major cities arrested blacks for marijuana possession violations at rates four to twelve times that of caucasians. Similar disparities have been repeatedly reported in other major cities, including New York and Chicago.

A 2013 American Civil Liberties Union study found that nationwide blacks are approximately four times as likely as whites to be arrested for marijuana possession, even though both ethnicities consume the substance at approximately similar rates.

19 thoughts

  1. You and I will read this information and be outraged, because we’re not racist assholes, and because we believe in justice and fairness; but many Trump supporters will applaud this news.

    Trump is a white supremacist asshole surrounded by lots of other white supremacist assholes. Justice is not their goal! They are contemptuous of principles like fairness or decency. They openly applaud racism, violence, and duplicity.

    Fuck Trump, Sessions, McConnell, Ryan, and all their freedom-hating, KKK-loving, shit-eating supporters.

    1. It’s sad 2016 was Obama Administration. But this delusional hate of Trump will not help remove prohibition. Get off your hate trip …it’s time to unite stand for freedom and liberty it’s time to bring prohibition to an end. Ending Marijuana Prohibition has nothing to do with your foul misrepresentation and hate for Trump and citizens. Unite and end Marijuana Prohibition.

      1. @ phony freedom&liberty,

        Trump, Sessions, and all the rest ARE prohibitionists. This is a matter of record. So don’t tell me what to do, bitch!

      2. Wake the hell up NORML. Trump supporters are not your friends. I keep telling you this, but you blow me off. The proof is there if the people of NORML and other cannabis reformers have two eyes that can read. I’ll say it again: Trump supporters are not your friends, but I guess you’ll have to wait until 2025 when Trump finishes his second term to grasp that. Stupid of NORML and any cannabis reformer would even think that Trump would be a friend. Are you that stupid, America?

      3. Sean,

        I understand what you’re saying, sympathize with your complaints. But, I gotta stick up for NORML. I honestly believe they bend over backwards to remain objective.

        You’re right, though, about many of the Trump supporters, tho, I don’t believe all of ’em. I can tell by the posts, that some of them are the same ones who decried legalization in California back in 2010. Their libertarianism oozes through.

        Their tunnel vision, refusal to accept certain facts, smacks of Fox viewership. MY god, Trump made drug-warrior Sessions his AG! Does that influence their thoughts? ‘Course not, they’ll always find justification. Trump calls Duterte a great leader, praises his drug policies–again, these Fox-watchers are living in denial.

        So, you’re right about a lot of them, that we don’t, and never will, need their support. Just as the GOP remains largely stuck in the 1950s, so do they.

      4. F&L,

        I guess you haven’t heard. Trump made anti-MJ zealot Sessions his AG. He also calls Duterte a great man, a great drug-warrior. The tragic part is the chilling effect that comments by Sessions and Spicer have had on the MJ industry in the US.

        So, we will forge ahead with legalization, despite Trump’s idiocy. You are free to follow him, of course; hope you don’t get busted, because Sessions has directed the states’ AGs to seek the harshest penalties possible.

  2. And isn’t THAT what the Drug War has been all about? Suppressing minority communities who happen to have more melanin in their flesh in order to legally obtain their votes and their property?

    Well, that and suppressing the whole plant tradition of our American Indian ancestors who did not wish to follow the poisonous practise of institutionalized “medicine.”

    But the racism isnt working like it used to. If the line wasnt drawn at poverty for Big Pharma and private prisons than why are they targeting poor white neighborhoods in West Virginia and Arizona? Even these low-information voters have their Republican Senators making a show of opposing the GOP’s Big Pharma agenda under the Drumphenfuhrer.
    Rich people are targeted by prohibitionists as well, but not in an equitable fashion. More lavish gambling addictions and pills await their temptation. Or they become shareholders in the Drug War, like our Congressman who have money invested as silent partners with secret overseas stock options and tax-free accounts to the exploitation of the impovershied. Tax -free? Now THATS an addiction!
    And as our Deputy Director Paul Armentano recently published in Alternet, marijuana is an exit drug for any variety of addictions, threatening the profits of everything from processed junk food to the patented foundation of synthetic “medicine.” Is it any wonder its taking us this much of a fight to legalize whole plant cannabis?
    Lets remind our Representatives of the value of a healthy community; what it means to see our children play without the menace of patented poisons that target the rich and the poor. WE choose between the pill or the plant. WE as Americans are voting with what we purchase. And we choose weed.

  3. I’m not a racist. You always get better pot and better deals from blacks. American white racism is all done by Yankees.

  4. Somebody please save Virginia. The movement feels stagnant and stale. I thought the momentum from DC and NC would shake things up but it feels like we’ll be the 49th state to come around just before Alabama or Mississippi somewhere.

  5. Speaking of studies, great work Paul debunking the latest propaganda about so-called teen increase of marijuana use:

    The CBS report was not even a peer reviewed study, not accepted by any scientific journal, and by far the most classic lie; “Colorado hospitals have increased their inquiry into marijuana consumption of teenagers admitted into the ER.” What CBS fails to report is that Colorado Hospitals have increased their testing for marijuana in teenagers since legalization began there.

    Its like that cherry picked report of increased drugged-driving accidents in Washington State: The NHSA and AAA both confirm a peer reviewed controlled study (meaning finally marijuana gets separated from pills and alcohol for related accident reports) yet an increase in accidents with people who tested positive for marijuana gets reported in Washington State without disclosing that THE STATE JUST STARTED COLLECTING THE DATA!

    (Deep breath… better yet deep toke…)

    So seguey back to racial profiling, the racial roots of prohibition and collecting data, lets stick to peer reviewed studies like the ACLU thats been reporting for decades more arrests of minorities for consuming the same amount of marijuana as white Americans in possession of marijuana. Prohibitionists pay to separate us and take our votes to maintain oppression and power. Racism is always about using lies, hatred and avarice for the acquisition of property.

  6. Addition to ACLU report: “…for white people possessing the SAME AMOUNT of marijuana relative to minorities who are arrested disproportionately.”

    And watch out for words like “Spike.” These false equivalencies from so called “spikes” in numbers of deaths, accidents or whatever need to be scrutinized carefully. A “spike” in any population dynamic cannot be determined if the “study” JUST STARTED RESEARCHING NUMBERS. Thats like me driving through Delaware for the first time and reporting a “spike” in the number of times we all drive through Delaware without considering anyone elses crossing data or the people who dont even know where Delaware is on a map. To them it would be like “Where’s Delaware” (California surfer accent) “I mean, dude, that must be like some kind of a spike to the goal post y’know?”
    No, we dont know. Which is why we have longitudinal, peer reviewed, controlled studies like the 25,000 on PubMed that show the medical efficacy of marijuana we can link to on this website by clicking on the Health tab. Use these links when writing our state and Federal Congressman. And when your Rep or Senator mention “conflicting studies” about the medical efficacy of marijuana you demand they disclose their evidence in person and in writing.

  7. Tyranny by the majority, “white privilege” has consequences we have seen before. Ignorance is only blissful for the ignorant.

  8. Marijuana prohibition was enacted to make it easy to arrest blacks and Mexicans. And its continued until today.

  9. Should come as no surprise whatsoever. Don’t expect it to change anytime soon. And, if you protest, you will be thrown in jail potentially as well.


    Race Traitor

    It is no secret that the war on marijuana has so many racist and hateful roots. It would be nice if Americans appreciated history in an unbiased prospective. I could go on, but what is the point? Not to mention, in our system, my time is limited. The fact of the matter is, no one benefits from the war on marijuana. Especially people of color. That is all.

    And that is all that needs to be said.


  10. Cannabis criminals ( in The State of Illinois) are excluded from receiving health care in the legal form of cannabis therapy…forever…leaving hundreds of thousands of past and paid for “Cannabis Criminals” to suffer…particularly those who refuse opioid dependence/risk of Addiction.

    Perhaps all health care should be denied based on a past criminal record?

    Slippery slope…?…what medical denial and what behavior might next be paired?…?…No insulin for you,Fatass?

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