A look at booking stats for California's 25 most-populated areas finds that in Los Angeles County African-Americans have a marijuana-possession arrest rate that's 332 percent higher than that for whites.
The report, “Targeting Blacks For Marijuana,” was released this week and found that across those 25 largest counties the pot-holding arrest rate for blacks was often at least double that of whites despite evidence that indicates African-Americans use cannabis at a lower rate. In L.A. County the percentage was more than quadruple.
The Drug Policy Alliance, which conducted and released the report, is using it to lobby for the passage of Prop. 19, the November ballot initiative in California that would legalize the possession of up to one ounce of weed for those older than 21.
“The findings in this report are a chilling reminder of the day-to-day realities of marijuana prohibition and the large-scale racist enforcement at its core,” said Stephen Gutwillig, California director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “Racial justice demands ending this policy disaster and replacing it with a sensible regulatory system that redirects law enforcement to matters of genuine public safety. Proposition 19 is California's exit strategy from its failed war on marijuana.”
The study looks at arrest records from 2004 to 2008 in those largest counties, which represent about 90 percent of the Golden State's population, according to a statement from the alliance.
Overall the report found that African-Americans made up one in five pot arrests in a state where they comprise seven percent of the population.
In L.A. County blacks made up three in ten pot arrests but comprise only 1 out of 10 people here.
San Diego County has L.A. beat on that front, however, with a African-American pot-arrest rate that's 365 percent higher than that for whites. In S.D., blacks made up one in five weed arrests but only comprised 5.6 percent of the population. In O.C., the pot-arrest rate for African-Americans was 221 percent more than that for whites.
Riverside County? 265 percent.
San Bernardino County? 255 percent.
This more than smells funny. It stinks.