New York: Albany Police Disproportionately Target Blacks for Marijuana Violations

Albany, NY: Those cited by police for violating marijuana laws in the city of Albany are almost exclusively Black people, according to an analysis of citywide arrest data by the Albany Times Union.

Black people comprised 97 percent of those arrested or ticketed for marijuana violations over the past year (July 9, 2019 to July 9, 2020). Nearly sixty percent of all of the violations reported were for simple possession only. Only four whites were cited for marijuana offenses during the one-year period.

In an e-mailed statement, Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan said, “The city of Albany Police Reform Collaborative will be undertaking a comprehensive review of the Albany Police Department data associated with arrests by race, gender, and other demographics, and we look forward to having a robust community discussion around these statistics.”

Prior analyses of citywide arrest data in Buffalo and in New York City have similarly determined that Black people are disproportionately arrested for marijuana-related activities. Nationwide, Blacks are nearly four times as likely as whites to be arrested for marijuana violations, according to data compiled in May by the American Civil Liberties Union.

New York lawmakers significantly amended the state’s marijuana possession penalties in 2019 partly in response to allegations of racially motivated policing.

For more information, see NORML’s Fact Sheet, “Racial Disparities in Marijuana Arrests.”