RALEIGH – According to a new report by the American Civil Liberties Union, North Carolina spent nearly $55 million enforcing marijuana possession laws in 2010, while statewide African Americans were arrested for marijuana possession at 3.4 times the rate of whites, despite comparable marijuana usage rates. The report, Marijuana in Black and White: Billions of Dollars Wasted on Racially Biased Arrests, released today, is the first ever to examine state and county marijuana arrest rates nationally by race.
Statewide, North Carolina law enforcement made 20,983 marijuana arrests in 2010 – the 10th most in the nation – and marijuana possession arrests accounted for 53.6 percent of all drug arrests in North Carolina in 2010. Fifty percent of the people arrested for marijuana possession in North Carolina were African American, even though statewide African Americans comprise only 22 percent of the population – a 28 point difference.
“The war on marijuana has disproportionately been a war on people of color,” said Ezekiel Edwards, Director of the Criminal Law Reform Project at the ACLU and one of the primary authors of the report. “State and local governments have aggressively enforced marijuana laws selectively against black people and communities, needlessly ensnaring hundreds of thousands of people in the criminal justice system at tremendous human and financial cost. The aggressive policing of marijuana is time-consuming, costly, racially biased, and doesn’t work.”