Maryland: Black Arrest Rate For Marijuana Possession Offenses More Than Twice That Of Whites

Maryland: Black Arrest Rate For Marijuana Possession Offenses More Than Twice That Of Whites

Baltimore, MD: African Americans are far more likely to be arrested in Maryland for marijuana possession offenses than are whites, according to a statewide report published last week by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maryland.

Authors of the report reviewed data provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the US Census to analyze marijuana possession arrests in Maryland by race between the years 2001 and 2010.

"Even though blacks and whites use marijuana at comparable rates, police arrest blacks for marijuana possession at higher rates than whites in every county in Maryland," authors reported. Authors also reported that the arrest rate for African Americans grew from nearly twice the rate of whites in 2001 to nearly three times the rate of whites in 2010.

A previous ACLU report found that nationwide African Americans are approximately four times as likely as whites to be arrested for marijuana possession.

Maryland possesses the fourth highest rate of marijuana possession arrests in the nation, the new report found. In 2010, one out of every 245 people in Maryland was arrested for marijuana possession. The ACLU estimated that the state spent an estimated $106 million in 2010 enforcing marijuana possession laws.

Only six states – New York (103,698), Texas (74,268), Florida (57,951), California (57,262), Illinois (49,404), and Georgia (32,473) – reported making more marijuana possession arrests in 2010 than did Maryland (23,663). (California decriminalized minor marijuana possession offenses in 2011.)

The ACLU report recommended that Maryland lawmakers amend the state’s laws to allow the adult use of cannabis to be taxed and regulated. According to a statewide Goucher Poll released this month, 51 percent of Marylanders support making marijuana use legal statewide. More than eight in ten believe that those found possessing small quantities of marijuana should face fines rather than criminal prosecution.

For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500. Full text of the ACLU report, "The Maryland War on Marijuana in Black and White," is available online at: