Blacks Smoke Less Pot, But Get Arrested More

LA Times: This 'unequal enforcement' must end
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 27, 2010 5:45 PM CDT
Marijuana plants flourish under grow lights at a warehouse in Denver.   (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

(Newser) – White people smoke pot at a higher rate than black people, says the government, but you'd never guess that from police reports. In California, blacks are arrested far more frequently for marijuana possession than whites—at 13 times the rate in some areas, notes the Los Angeles Times editorial board. No matter what happens with Prop 19, this "racial inequity is real and should not continue unaddressed," it writes.

The arrest disparities were made clear in a new report put out in part by the NAACP, which supports legalization of the drug in part because of this "unequal enforcement." It's the result of the long-standing police strategy of maintaining a heavy presence in minority areas, with officers "overzealously" stopping people for frisks. The Times differs with the NAACP on Prop 19 but agrees that "policing practices that vary wildly from community to community" must end.

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