September 10, 2018, Florida
Disproportions in drug law enforcement on racial lines have been both historical and ongoing issue in the US. These decades-old disparities have resulted in the mass incarceration of people of color. This is the reason why the topic of cannabis decriminalization gets substantial traction even the state where marijuana is not legal in any form.
People advocating for the legalization of cannabis often pronounce it as one of the ways to bring social justice to the equation to go against these inequalities. For that reason, marijuana decriminalization and expungement of past criminal record linked to the strain are essential provisions of any legalization initiative or bill.
Statistics released by law enforcement entities every second day from different states suggest an increasing disparity in connection with cannabis arrests. Recently, Miami-Dade Police Department has released arrest and book data of the last three years for the county. This data substantiates the findings of a report published by American Civil Liberties Union, which suggested that cannabis arrests and prosecution are getting more disproportional with time.
The ACLU report analyzes the criminal record from 2010 to 2015 regarding marijuana cases in Miami-Dade County. According to the report, from arrests to legal proceedings, everything is biased against defendants belonging to color communities and Black population in particular.
For instance, Black population accounts for 38 percent arrests even though their population in the County is less than 17 percent. In addition, marijuana-related arrests are higher in neighborhoods with the majority of the Black population. Not only that, the persecuted demographic is more vulnerable to get arrested for drug-related nuisance crimes that include smoking pot or possessing a small amount of the strain.
The data from the Miami-Dade Police Department from 2015 onwards also tells the same story. Even though these numbers don’t draw attention to the issue of racial disproportion right away, but one can easily identify the problem after some digging. A local newspaper has taken a random sample of 50 minor marijuana cases from the available record of arrest forms to find out that 40 of them involved either Hispanic or Black individuals.
It is important to mention that this disproportion is extended all across the state. The numbers from last year show that arrests involving cannabis misdemeanors went up six percent and almost half of them were black people.
These figures become even more scandalous when one factor in that the cops have the option to issue only citations instead of arresting the citizens for minor cannabis charges. A resolution passed by the county commissioners has given this authority to the local cops. The data also shows a stark difference between the number of marijuana citations issued to white people and people of color. Of 10,000 marijuana citations issued from 2015 to July 2018, only 28 percent went to black people. Over-policing of black neighborhoods and arresting more people of color when the option of issuing citations is available calls for a major refit of the criminal justice system.
Marijuana stays in the news, and Alice is always ready to keep us updated. A world traveler and lover of freedom, Alice knows what is going on, no matter where she roams. She specializes in marijuana legalization stories across the globe, with up to date... [read more]