A new report from the American Civil Liberties Union finds a huge racial disparity in arrests for marijuana possession, despite the fact that government statistics show that Blacks and Whites use marijuana at about the same rate. The impact of the large racial disparity in marijuana arrests can impact access to higher education for African Americans. Students with criminal records may have a more difficult time gaining admission to college or securing financing to pay for college.
The report finds that, on average, a Black person is 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than a white person. In states with the worst disparities, Blacks were, on average, over six times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites. In Iowa, Blacks are more than eight times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than Whites.
Such racial disparities in marijuana possession arrests exist in all regions of the country, in counties large and small, urban and rural, wealthy and poor, and with large and small Black populations. In over 96 percent of counties with more than 30,000 people in which at least 2 percent of the residents are Black, Blacks are arrested at higher rates than whites for marijuana possession. In the worst offending counties across the country, Blacks were over 10, 15, even 30 times more likely to be arrested than white residents in the same county.
The ACLU report, The War on Marijuana: In Black and White, may be downloaded here.