Press Release  | 10/21/2010

New Report Released at NAACP State Conference Highlights Marijuana Arrest Disparities in 25 Major Cities in California

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500,000 Marijuana Arrests in California Over the Last Decade; Blacks Arrested at 4 to 12 Times the Rate of Whites though Whites Use Marijuana at Higher Rates
WHO:
Alice Huffman, President, California NAACP State Conference
Stephen Gutwillig, State Director, Drug Policy Alliance
Major Neill Franklin, Exec. Director, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition
Danny Glover – Actor
Richard Lee – President, Oaksterdam University, and Proponent of Prop. 19
Robert Rooks – Director, Criminal Justice, National NAACP
Dr. Joycelyn Elders – Former Surgeon General
WHAT:
Release of a new report, "Arresting Blacks for Marijuana in California: Possession Arrests in 25 Cities, 2006-08." Highlights of the report follow this advisory. For a copy of the full report in advance of the press conference, call Tony Newman at 646.335.5384.
WHEN:
Friday, October 22, 2010, 2:30 PM -- Immediately preceding Civil Rights Panel: "Lost Communities/Failed Cannabis Prohibition: A Time for Change" 3:00 p.m.
WHERE:
In Person, Jewett Ballroom, Oakland Marriott City Center Hotel, 1001 Broadway, Oakland
By Phone, (800) 311-9402, Code: NAACP
WHY:
The Drug Policy Alliance and the California Conference of the NAACP are jointly releasing a new report on the targeting of African Americans for low-level marijuana possession in California. Highlights of the report include:
  • In the last 20 years, California made 850,000 arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana, and half a million arrests in the last 10 years. The people arrested were disproportionately African Ameri­cans and Latinos, overwhelmingly young people, especially young men.
  • U.S. government surveys consistently find that young whites use ma­rijuana at higher rates than young blacks.
  • From 2006 through 2008, police in 25 of California's major cities have ar­rested blacks for low-level marijuana possession at four, five, six, seven and even twelve times the rate of whites.
Arresting Blacks for Marijuana in California
Possession Arrests in 25 Cities, 2006-08



Report Highlights:
  • In the last twenty years, California made 850,000 arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana, and half a million arrests in the last ten years. The people arrested were disproportionately African Americans and Latinos, overwhelmingly young people, especially young men.
  • Yet, U.S. government surveys consistently find that young whites use marijuana at higher rates than young blacks.
  • From 2006 through 2008, police in 25 of California's major cities arrested blacks at four, five, six, seven and even twelve times the rate of whites.
  • The City of Los Angeles, with ten percent of California's population, arrested blacks for marijuana possession at seven times the rate of whites.
  • San Diego, the second largest city in California, arrested blacks for marijuana possession at six times the rate of whites.
  • In Pasadena, blacks are 11% of the population but 49% of the people arrested for marijuana possession. Pasadena arrested blacks at twelve and a half times the rate of whites.
  • In Sacramento, the state capitol, blacks are 14% of the city 's population but more than 51% of all the people arrested for possessing marijuana.
  • These racially-biased marijuana arrests were a system-wide phenomenon, occurring in every county and nearly every police department in California. They were not mainly the result of individual prejudice or racism. In making these arrests, patrol officers were doing what they were assigned to do.
  • The "scarlet letter" stigma of drug offense records can create barriers to employment and education for anyone, including whites and middle class people.
  • Changing the crime of marijuana possession from a misdemeanor to an infraction does not change the double standard of enforcement. Police will almost certainly continue to give out a great many summonses, disproportionately to young blacks and Latinos.
Joy Atkinson at 213-840-4173 or Tony Newman at 646-335-5384

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