Reefer Raciscm

 Reefer Racism

The following is from the March 2011 issue of High Times, Pg.18

California may lead the nation in medical-marijuana culture, but simple possession arrests in the state are still escalating, and minorities continue to be busted for pot at a disproportionately higher rate than white people, according to a joint report issued in October 2010 by the NAACP and the Drug Policy Alliance entitled Arresting Blacks for Marijuana in California: Possession Arrests in 25 cities, 2006-08. Despite the title, the study also includes pot arrests for Latinos. It found that in some parts of the state, minorities were arrested for weed up to 12 times more frequently than whites. As for California’s two largest cities, blacks were arrested for pot possession at almost six times the rate of whites in San Diego, and at seven times the rate of whites in Los Angeles. Moreover, these racially unbalanced arrests occurred in every county and almost every police department in California. However, according to US Department of Health and Human Services stats for 2004 to 2007, whites of all ages report using marijuana more than either Latinos or African-Americans. The study avoids accusing individual police officers of racism, but it does suggest an institutionalized racial bias in law enforcement. Stephen Gutwillig of the Drug Policy Alliance clarifies: “[Officers] are assigned to certain neighborhoods, designated as ‘high crime,’ that are home to Blacks and Latinos. It’s a self-perpetuating system in which cops primarily stop and search large numbers of young people in black and latino neighborhoods, find small amounts of marijuana, easily meet their arresst and citation quotas, and therefore justify continuing these practices.” The study indicates that over the last 20 years, 850,000 arrests for possession of less than an ounce were made in California; half a million of those took place in the last 10 years. Ironically, every category of actual serious crime has been declining in California since 1990.

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