The War on Marijuana in Black and White

American Civil Liberties Union, June 2013

Posted: 11 Aug 2016

See all articles by W.C. Bunting

W.C. Bunting

Fox School of Business and Management

Lynda Garcia

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

Ezekiel Edwards

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

Date Written: June 1, 2013

Abstract

This report is the first to examine marijuana possession arrest rates by race for all 50 states (and the District of Columbia) and their respective counties from 2001 to 2010. The report relies on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program and the United States Census’ annual county population estimates to document arrest rates by race per 100,000 for marijuana possession. The report finds that between 2001 and 2010, there were over 8 million marijuana arrests in the United States, 88% of which were for possession. Marijuana arrests have increased between 2001 and 2010 and now account for over half (52%) of all drug arrests in the United States, and marijuana possession arrests account for nearly half (46%) of all drug arrests. In 2010, there was one marijuana arrest every 37 seconds, and states spent combined over $3.6 billion enforcing marijuana possession laws.

The report also finds that, on average, a Black person is 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than a white person, even though Blacks and whites use marijuana at similar rates. 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. Indeed, in over 96% of counties with more than 30,000 people in which at least 2% of the residents are Black, Blacks are arrested at higher rates than whites for marijuana possession.

Suggested Citation

Bunting, William and Garcia, Lynda and Edwards, Ezekiel, The War on Marijuana in Black and White (June 1, 2013). American Civil Liberties Union, June 2013. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2819708

William Bunting (Contact Author)

Fox School of Business and Management ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States

Lynda Garcia

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) ( email )

125 Broad Street
New York, NY 10004
United States

Ezekiel Edwards

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) ( email )

125 Broad Street
New York, NY 10004
United States

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