Marijuana arrests are racially biased, ACLU study claims - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Marijuana arrests are racially biased, ACLU study claims

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Black people are arrested for marijuana possession 3.4 times more than white people even though both groups use it at the same rate. That's according to a new American Civil Liberties Union study released on Tuesday.  

"When it comes to the government's failed war on marijuana, communities of color and low income communities are those most often targeted,"  ACLU of North Carolina Communications Director Mike Meno said.

The ACLU analyzed FBI crime data nationwide. The report partially blames federal subsidies that incentivize local police to make more arrests.

"So when police have this incentive to make a large number of arrests, they go to the low-hanging fruit," Meno said, "and there's no better example than low-level marijuana possession arrests."

It's an issue the Durham-based Southern Coalition for Social Justice has also studied. They say what some people consider minor marijuana arrests can have long-lasting negative consequences.

"You can lose access to federal financial student aid, be kicked out of public housing and lose access to various employment and professional licenses," SCSJ attorney Daryl Atkinson said.

Groups like the ACLU are calling for marijuana to be legalized, taxed and regulated.  At the very least, they want local police departments to make pot possession a low priority.

Derick Waller

Derick is a reporter for WNCN covering crime, education, politics and just about everything in between. He has a knack for adapting to any story and consistently delivers information quickly across multiple platforms. More>>

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