ACLU Pennsylvania: Blacks Eight Times More Likely Than Whites To Be Arrested For Marijuana Possession

PENNSYLVANIA: African Americans in Pennsylvania are eight times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession offenses than are Caucasians, according to an analysis of statewide arrest data by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The ACLU Pennsylvania report reviewed arrest data for all 67 counties from 2010 to 2016. Excluding Philadelphia, which decriminalized cannabis possession offenses in 2014, adult marijuana possession arrests increased 33 percent during this time period – at a cost of $225.3 million to taxpayers. Black adults were 8.2 times more likely than their white counterparts to be arrested for possessing marijuana. In 2010, African Americans in Pennsylvania were 6.5 percent times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession crimes.

Recent analyses from other states, such as New Jersey and Virginia, have similarly identified racial disparities in marijuana possession arrests. Nationwide, African Americans are approximately four times more likely than whites to be arrested for possessing marijuana, despite members of both ethnicities using the substance at similar rates.

“Pennsylvania’s insistence in continuing to fight the war on marijuana, is at the root of the problematic data presented in this report,” the ACLU of Pennsylvania concluded. “Law enforcement has not only continued its business-as-usual arresting policies in enforcement of cannabis prohibition, it has ramped up enforcement as marijuana use has become more accepted throughout the commonwealth and the nation. If laws don’t change, this pattern will likely continue; law enforcement could become even more heavy handed until policymakers are clear that it is time to end this approach. The clearest way to send that message is to end prohibition altogether.”


For more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at (202) 483-5500. Full text of the report is available from the ACLU of Pennsylvania.

Iowa City Leaders Consider Change In Marijuana Arrest Policies

IOWA:  Iowa City officials are considering making a change to the city’s marijuana policing policy.

City councilman Jim Throgmorton says racial disparity in marijuana arrests and the overcrowding at the Johnson County Jail are the reasons behind a possible change.

“I believe we should at least look very carefully whether they should be detained, arrested, incarcerated, etc., simply for possession and use of marijuana,” said Throgmorton. “In part, it has to do with the fact that African-Americans are arrested in disproportionate numbers and incarcerated in disproportionate numbers merely for possession and use of marijuana.”

 

Marijuana, Human Rights And The US Image

One of the most serious and widespread human rights issues in the US is our prison system, in which more people per capita are incarcerated than any other country in the world where comparable records are kept. As Human Rights Watch reports regarding Human Rights and US prisons, “Practices contrary to human rights principles, such as the death penalty, juvenile life-without-parole sentences, and solitary confinement are common and often marked by racial disparities.”

These human rights violations directly affect the millions of Americans in prison and indirectly affect millions more who have family and loved ones behind bars. The tertiary effects of the prison-industrial complex are felt throughout American political life as resources are put not into keeping Americans safe from crime but from finding people to lock up and keeping those people behind bars. [Read more…]

Wells, Civil Rights Groups Push for Potent D.C. Pot Bill

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  On Tuesday, the D.C. Council will have a chance to pass what civil rights groups are calling the strongest marijuana decriminalization bill in the country.

The proposal, offered by Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells, who represents Capitol Hill and is also running for mayor, would prevent police officers from stopping and searching D.C. residents solely because officers smell pot. Supporters also see it as an attempt to end racial profiling. [Read more…]

Washington Post’s View: Marijuana Likely To Be Decriminalized In D.C.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Before long, smoking a joint in the nation’s capital might get you in even less trouble than parking on the wrong side of the street on street-cleaning day.

Ten of 13 members of the D.C. Council and Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) have endorsed a plan to make small-time marijuana possession a civil rather than a criminal offense. [Read more…]

U.S. Judge Says Government View On Marijuana Raises 'Equal Justice' Issue

MARYLAND: A federal judge in Maryland handed down lighter prison sentences Monday to defendants in a huge marijuana distribution case, saying that such offenses are “not regarded with the same seriousness” as they were just a few decades ago.

U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar said the federal government’s response to marijuana legalization in some states — notably the decision not to pursue criminal cases against dispensaries and others handling the drug in accordance with those states’ laws — raises concerns of “equal justice.” [Read more…]

Local Mass. Law Enforcement: Minorities not targeted for marijuana possession

MASSACHUSETTS: Local police and elected officials say law enforcement agencies in Bristol County do not target minorities for marijuana possession as suggested by a recent report by the American Civil Liberties Union.

“Absolutely not. I haven’t seen any evidence of it,” Somerset Police Chief Joseph Ferreira said.

“Our arrests are based on the facts of the case. We don’t make arrests or issue citations based upon the minority status of anyone,” Swansea Police Lt. Greg Ryan said.  [Read more…]