African Americans are nearly four times as likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana than whites, according to a new study from the American Civil Liberties Union.
The ACLU reviewed arrests in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia and found the war on pot targets African Americans. From 2001 to 2010, more than 8 million people were arrested for pot. Of those arrests, 52 percent were for small amounts of the drug.
In 2010, more people were arrested for marijuana than for all violent crimes combined. There was one pot arrest every 37 seconds. That same year, blacks were almost four times as likely to be arrested for pot than whites.
There was even greater disparity in Washington D.C., Iowa, Minnesota and Illinois where blacks were 7.5 to 8.5 times as likely to be arrested for marijuana than whites.
In 2010, states spent about $3.6 billion tightening enforcement of marijuana possession laws. This is a 30 percent increase from just a decade earlier.
“Yet the War on Marijuana has failed to diminish the use or availability of marijuana,” according to the ACLU.
During President Barack Obama’s first three years in office, the pot arrests were 5 percent higher than the average under President George W. Bush.
A recent Pew poll found the majority of Americans support lifting federal laws on marijuana. The poll showed 52 percent of Americans would legalize pot.
In the report, the ACLU stood with those eager to decriminalize marijuana:
“To repair this country’s wrecked War on Marijuana, the ACLU recommends that marijuana be legalized for persons 21 or older through a system of taxation, licensing and regulation. Legalization is the smartest and surest way to end targeted enforcement of marijuana laws in communities of color, and, moreover, would eliminate the costs of such enforcement while generating revenue for cash-strapped states.”