Marijuana Arrests in California Target Blacks and Latinos

Tuesday, November 02, 2010
California is not the place to be for Latinos and African-Americans who use marijuana. In city after city, these two minorities have been subject to disproportionately high levels of arrest and prosecution, according to studies produced by the Drug Policy Alliance, the California NAACP and the William C. Velasquez Institute.
From 2006-2008, blacks were arrested for marijuana possession in California’s 25 largest cities at four, five, six, seven and even 12 times the rate of whites. For Latinos, the arrest rate was twice to three times that of whites in California’s 33 largest cities.
In the city of Los Angeles, blacks were arrested for marijuana possession at seven times the rate of whites. In Pasadena, blacks make up 11% of the population, but 49% of the people arrested for possession of marijuana. In the state’s capital, Sacramento, blacks account for 14% of the population, but 51% marijuana arrests.
In San Jose, where Latinos are 31% of the population, they accounted for 54% of those arrested for having marijuana.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Arresting Blacks for Marijuana in California (Drug Policy Alliance and California NAACP) (pdf)
Arresting Latinos for Marijuana in California (Drug Policy Alliance and William C. Velasquez Institute) (pdf)


malcolm kyle 10 years ago
Not only does the US have the highest rate of incarceration on the planet, but the racial disparity of arrests, convictions and imprisonment have become grossly pronounced. Nationwide Afro-Americans are arrested, convicted and imprisoned disproportionately. Thirty-seven percent of drug-offense arrests are Afro-Americans, 53 percent of convictions are of Afro-Americans, and 67 percent -- two-thirds of all people imprisoned for drug offenses -- are Afro-Americans. This is depute the fact that Afro-Americans do not use drugs at a perceivable higher rate than white Americans. - 8.2% of whites and 10.1% of blacks use illicit drugs. Much of the voting rights & victories won by the civil rights movement during the 1960s have effectively been eroded. Nearly 5 million people are now barred from voting because of felony disenfranchisement laws. The United States is the only industrial democracy that does this. Drug prohibition has become a successor system to Jim Crow laws in targeting black citizens, removing them from civil society and then barring them from the right to vote. If harsh sentences deterred illicit drug use, America would be "drug-free" by now. But that is not the case, and never will be. The drug war has given the "former land of the free" the highest incarceration rate in the world and disenfranchised millions of citizens. It is a cure worse than the disease. One out of three young African American (ages 18 to 35) men are in prison or on some form of supervised release. There are more African American men in prison than in college. Thats a four times higher percentage of Black men in prison than South Africa at the height of apartheid. Let's look at the statistics again: (2008 - illicit drug use by race) "Current illicit drug use among persons aged 12 or older varied by race/ethnicity in 2008, with the lowest rate among Asians (3.6 percent) (Figure 2.9). Rates were 14.7 percent for persons reporting two or more races, 10.1 percent for blacks, 9.5 percent for American Indians or Alaska Natives, 8.2 percent for whites, 7.3 percent of Native Hawaiians or Other Pacific Islanders, and 6.2 percent for Hispanics." That's 8.2% of whites and 10.1% of blacks using illicit drugs. Now look at the incarceration statistics: (2007 - incarceration rate by race) "The custody incarceration rate for black males was 4,618 per 100,000. while the incarceration rate of white males was 773 per 100,000. This means that there are at least 5 times more blacks incarcerated for drug offenses than should be expected. This is clearly a gross injustice! Whatever the exact dynamics involved, these horrific racial disparities are a direct result of drug-prohibition and are quite clearly unacceptable. This moronothon has done nothing but breed generations of incarcerated and disenfranchised Afro Americans and any citizen not doing their utmost to help reverse this perverse injustice may duly hang their head in shame.

Leave a comment