New data released by the American Civil Liberties Union – which tracked marijuana arrests by race in all 50 states – found that African Americans were nearly four times more likely than someone who’s white to be arrested on a marijuana possession charge in 2010, despite their rate of consumption being roughly the same.
In certain areas, such as in Washington D.C., Illinois and Minnesota, African Americans were roughly 8 times more likely than Caucasians to be arrested for cannabis possession.
According to the data, 52% of all drug arrests in 2010 were for marijuana, with the majority of those being for simple possession. The report states that there were more marijuana arrests in 2010 than all violent crimes combined.
“We found that in virtually every county in the country, police have wasted taxpayer money enforcing marijuana laws in a racially biased manner,” said Ezekiel Edwards, Director of the A.C.L.U.’s Criminal Law Reform Project and the lead author of the report.
This new data – which is the most comprehensive research ever released on the subject – validates a past report from NORML which found thatAfrican Americans and Hispanics make up 20% of cannabis consumers in the country, yet comprise nearly 60% of those sentenced under federal law. A 2009 report released by the Human Rights Watch found African Americans to be 250% more likely to be arrested for a marijuana offense compared to someone who’s white, and 8 times more likely to go to prison for a drug related offense.