RI News
7:59 am
Wed June 5, 2013

Black Residents More Likely to be Arrested for Marijuana Possession Than Whites

A new report from the American Civil Liberties Union shows blacks are much more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites, even though national studies show both races use the drug at roughly similar rates. The study calls for the legalization of marijuana for recreational use.

A report by the ACLU shows black residents are more than two times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white residents.
A report by the ACLU shows black residents are more than two times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white residents.
Credit Catherine Welch / RIPR

In Rhode Island, black residents are two-and-a-half times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession. And in two counties with low minority populations – Bristol and Washington – African Americans are seven times as likely as whites to be arrested for marijuana possession.

The numbers were drawn from FBI crime statistics and census data. Steve Brown, director of the Rhode Island chapter of the ACLU was hard pressed to explain the arrest disparity.

"We can’t say it’s happening. One of the things we certainly urge is that this should be a wakeup call to the police departments to re-examine their practices, procedures and policies to find out how this is happening," said Brown.

Rhode Island’s rate of African Americans being two-and-a-half more likely than whites to be arrested for pot possession is slightly lower than the national rate.

A pot possession conviction can have a lifetime of consequences, shutting the individual out of college aid, public housing and even finding a job.

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