Montgomery, AL: African Americans in Louisiana are disproportionately arrested for low-level marijuana possession offenses, according to an analysis of 2016 arrest data conducted by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Investigators reported that blacks were arrested for marijuana possession at approximately three times the rate of whites. In some regions of the state, this disparity was significantly higher. For example, African Americans in Baton Rouge (population 228,000) were six times more likely to be arrested.
Recent analyses from other states, such as New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, have similarly identified racial disparities in marijuana possession arrests. Nationwide, African Americans are four times more likely than whites to be arrested for possessing marijuana, despite members of both ethnicities using the substance at similar rates.
For more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at (202) 483-5500. Further information is available from the NORML fact-sheet, “Racial disparity in marijuana arrests.” Full text of the SPLC report, “Racial Profiling in Louisiana: Unconstitutional and Counterproductive,” is online.