California Cannabis Arrests Predominately Target Black and Latinx People

While felony cannabis arrests have dropped in California since legalization took effect, the troubling trend of enforcement being prioritized against minority communities has continued.

Full story after the jump.

Felony cannabis arrests in California have dropped 27 percent since recreational cannabis legalization in the state in 2018; however, Hispanics represented 42 percent of those arrests, while Black people comprised 22 percent, and whites at 21 percent, according to state Department of Justice data outlined by the Associated Press.

Misdemeanor arrests in the state fell from 3,835 in 2018 – the first year of California’s legalization – to 3,769 last year, according to NORML. The advocacy organization pointed out that last year Blacks were 4.47 times more likely than whites to be arrested for a cannabis-related crime in California, compared to 4.05 times as often in 2018, when weighted for population. Latinx people were about twice as likely as whites to be arrested, also up from 2018, the organization said.

Ellen Komp, deputy director of California NORML, called the percentage of minorities arrested for cannabis-related drug crimes “troubling” especially in the wake of broad legalization.

“It’s legal if you have the venture capital to open up on Main Street.” – Komp to the AP

Nationwide, Black people are 3.6 times more likely than whites to be arrested for cannabis, despite similar usage rates, according to data from the American Civil Liberties Union.

A recent ACLU report found that in Maricopa County in neighboring Arizona, Latinx people charged with simple cannabis possession are sentenced to significantly longer jail and prison terms than their white and Black counterparts and that Black people convicted of personal possession of drug paraphernalia receive longer sentences than whites and Hispanics.

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