Minnesota African Americans Six Times More Likely Than Whites To Be Arrested For Marijuana

| by Jonathan Wolfe

It’s no secret that African Americans are disproportionately affected by America’s marijuana prohibition. Despite all data indicating Caucasian and African Americans consume marijuana at similar rates, blacks nationwide are 3.73 times more likely to be arrested on marijuana charges than whites. This disparity is even worse in Minnesota.

According to a new report by non-profit organization Minnesota 20/20, blacks in Minnesota are almost seven times more likely to be arrested for marijuana than whites. The organization used FBI arrest data in their analysis.

“Thus, the black arrest rate for marijuana possession was 687 and the white arrest rate was 107, making blacks 6.4 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites,” the study found.

The study also found that a marijuana-related conviction can cost someone up to $76,000 in legal fees and lost income over a decade using even conservative estimates.

“[This] kind of over-representation cannot be accounted for without racial bias,” Minnesota 20/20 Executive Director Steve Fletcher said. “It means black Minnesotans are bearing a disproportionate share of the personal and collateral costs of our war on drugs.”

The study urges Minnesota lawmakers to question whether the state’s marijuana laws are actually helping to produce a safer public.

“In light of these human and financial costs, Minnesota lawmakers and law enforcement officials have a responsibility to consider whether marijuana possession laws in their current conception are actually contributing to public safety, or if they are instead producing undue hardship for individuals and growing inequities within society,” the conclusion says. 

Sources: Minnesota 20/20, ACLU