One of the most prominent arguments against the war on drugs, and marijuana specifically, has been the impact it has had on specific communities. And most states that eventually legalized marijuana have been using some of the tax revenue earned from cannabis sales to help remedy this. However, a new study by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which examined nationwide marijuana arrests between 2010 and 2018, shows just how badly some communities, like African Americans, were disproportionately affected.
According to the study, although marijuana arrests have declined after Illinois decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana in 2016, prior disparities in arrests still remain. Researchers found that African Americans were ten times more likely to be arrested than white folks. The imbalance was even more pronounced in DuPage, Cook, Kane, Lake, and McHenry counties.
And this isn’t just a state problem. There is a similar nationwide disparity in arrests, with the study finding that African Americans are 4 times more likely to be arrested. However, Illinois is among the top states that exhibit such a disparity, with Montana and Kentucky showing higher rates of disparity in marijuana arrests.
“Black people are 3.64 times more likely than white people to be arrested for marijuana possession, notwithstanding comparable usage rates. In every single state, black people were more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession, and in some states, black people were up to six, eight, or almost ten times more likely to be arrested,” the study concluded.
“In 31 states, racial disparities were actually larger in 2018 than they were in 2010,” the researchers add.
The study mirrored a 2013 study by the ACLU that came up with similar results. The study concluded that “Such racial disparities in marijuana possession arrests exist in all regions of the country, in counties large and small, urban, rural, wealthy and poor, and with large and small black communities. Indeed, in over 96% of counties with more than 30,000 people in which at least 2% are black, they are arrested at higher rates than whites for marijuana possession.”
As Ben Ruddell, criminal justice policy director of ACLU of Illinois says, “the legacy of rank bias in how we enforced cannabis in Illinois is clear. We should redouble our efforts to ensure that this sort of racially disproportionate policing does not continue under the new state law, especially in those parts of the state where the track record is so abysmal.”
It is widely believed that such research findings give cannabis industry players like Round Meadow Holdings Corp. and Green Growth Brands Inc. (CSE: GGB) (OTCQB: GGBXF) added impetus to continue advocacy efforts aimed at ensuring that the enforcement of existing laws isn’t tilted against some communities.
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