Marijuana report: Racial disparity of pot arrests not as bad in Colorado as in most of U.S.
The title of a report from the ACLU -- "The War on Marijuana in Black and White: Billions of Dollars Wasted on Racially Biased Arrests" -- gives a good indication of its contents. The authors argue that the war on pot is a waste of money and African-Americans are disproportionately victimized by it. However, the report maintains that the problems caused by these issues in the United States as a whole are less severe in Colorado, which actually earns praise in its pages. Get details and read the entire report below.
The 175 page report takes in an in-depth look at marijuana arrests throughout the country by race. The document points out the major failings of anti-marijuana enforcement and suggests legalization for those 21 and up as a solution.
This excerpt from the study sums it up best: "The war on marijuana, like the larger war on drugs of which it is a part, is a failure. It has needlessly ensnared hundreds of thousands of people in the criminal justice system, had a staggeringly disproportionate impact on African-Americans, and comes at a tremendous human and financial cost."
This won't come as news to many readers. But the facts and figures are compelling, as are the regular mentions of Colorado, whose citizens earn praise for supporting Amendment 64, which allows adults 21 and over in Colorado to use and possess small amounts of cannabis.
This graphic shows statewide arrest rates in Colorado from 2001 to 2010.
Most of the other news isn't nearly as good.
"In 2010," according to the report, "nearly half (46%) of all drug arrests in America were for marijuana possession, an increase from 34% in 1995." Just as startling is this passage: "Between 2005 and 2010, the percentage of all drug arrests accounted for by marijuana possession arrests increased 21%."
These numbers are even more exaggerated in certain states. In Alaska, for instance, 81 percent of all drug arrests were for marijuana possession in 2010, while the percentages in Nebraska and Montana were 73 percent and 70 percent, respectively."
This chart graphically depicts the percentage of drug arrests in Colorado that are for marijuana possession.
In contrast, Colorado finished with 60.7 percent -- eighth lowest in the country, but still higher than virtually any advocate would like.
In addition, Colorado was among the ten states with the lowest levels of racial disparity in arrests. Yet African-Americans here are still 1.9 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than are whites.
And even these figures can be misleading.
Continue for more about the ACLU study, including the complete report.