Arresting Blacks for Marijuana in California

Possession Arrests, 2006-08

Levine, Harry G., et al. Arresting Blacks for Marijuana in California: Possession Arrests, 2006-08. Los Angeles: Drug Policy Alliance.

The Drug Policy Alliance and the California State Conference of the NAACP have released a report that documents widespread race-based disparities in the enforcement of low-level marijuana possession laws in California. In the last 20 years, California made 850,000 arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana, and half a million arrests in the last 10 years. The people arrested were disproportionately African Americans and Latinos, overwhelmingly young people, especially young men. Yet, U.S. government surveys consistently find that young whites use marijuana at higher rates than young blacks. From 2006 through 2008, police in 25 of California’s major cities have arrested blacks at four, five, six, seven and even twelve times the rate of whites.