One of the benefits of expanding marijuana legalization across the country is that it has afforded an opportunity to correct the disparity in marijuana arrests along race and socio-economic lines. These disparities have negatively impacted black people, Hispanics, and other oppressed groups. The efforts, however, are not producing immediately successful results. A report from New Frontier Data is showing that even now black and Hispanic suspects are arrested at nine times the rate of suspects who are white, despite the fact that data shows the three subgroups sell cannabis at similar rates.
According to the data, from 1997 to 2016, marijuana arrests made up more than 40 percent of drug-related arrests, totaling 15.7 million. Arrests overall from cannabis-related offenses have declined slightly in recent years, down from their height in 2007. This is likely reflective of states expanding marijuana legalization, though the numbers are not significantly lower than the overall average since 1997. For example, arrests for possession hit a low in 2015 of 575,000, but went up again in 2016 to 588,000, neither of which is much lower than 599,000 way back in 1998. Considering 30 states now allow provisions for medical marijuana and nine, plus Washington, D.C., have recreational laws on the books, these numbers should be improving more drastically over the 20-year-old stats. Continue reading