Arrests related to marijuana increased by around 35% over a four year period ending in 2017, the last year where data is available. This is according to a report released Friday by the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey.
The report is based on FBI crime figures, which show that there was around 38,000 arrests for cannabis possession, distribution or both in 2017, up from about 28,000 in 2013, reports the AP. The publication also found that black peopel are three times as likely to get arrested on marijuana-related charges than white people.
The ACLU-NJ, which released the report, is advocating recreational marijuana legalization in New Jersey. The main driver of its push, according to executive director Amol Sinha, is the racial aspect of marijuana prohibition.
“The fact that communities of color are disproportionately harmed … has created a civil rights crisis,” Sinha said.
Advocates, including the ACLU, want the Legislature to take up legalization during the current lame duck session, states the AP. The alternative is a ballot question, which Democratic Senate President Steve Sweeney has said he would put on the docket for next year.
Sinha said Friday that legislation is better than an election because lawmakers would still have to pass measures to specify recreational legalization even if a ballot question succeeds.