The War on Marijuana in Black and White
Over-Policing: Between 2001 and 2010, there were over 8 million pot arrests in the U.S. That’s one bust every 37 seconds and hundreds of thousands ensnared in the criminal justice system.
Wasted Time and Money: Enforcing marijuana laws costs us about $3.6 billion a year, yet the War on Marijuana has failed to diminish the use or availability of marijuana.
Staggering Racial Bias: Marijuana use is roughly equal among Blacks and whites, yet Blacks are 3.73 times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession.
In Louisiana, the parishes with the largest racial disparity in marijuana possession arrests were Rapides, Calcasieu, East Baton Rouge and Lafourche.. Statewide, police officers made13,435 arrests for marijuana possession in 2010, and marijuana possession rates accounted for37 percent of all drug arrests in 2010. In the past 10 years, marijuana possession arrest rates have risen 10% and the racial disparities among such arrests have increased by one-third.
Although a majority of Americans now support marijuana legalization Louisiana spent $46,450,368 enforcing marijuana laws in 2010. Nationally, states spent an estimated $3.61 billion enforcing marijuana possession laws in 2010 alone.
Iin Louisiana it’s possible to receive a sentence of life without parole for marijuana possession, if there have been other prior offenses. Meanwhile, being arrested for even a very small amount of marijuana can cost someone a job, result in the loss of student financial aid, lead to the loss of custody, and otherwise disrupt family relationships. In addition, the targeted enforcement of marijuana possession laws against people of color creates a community of mistrust and reduced cooperation with the police, which damages public safety.
In the report, the organization also urges lawmakers and law enforcement to reform policing practices, including ending racial profiling as well as unconstitutional stops, frisks, and searches, and also to reform state and federal funding streams that incentivize police to make low-level drug arrests.