Is it a smoke screen, or proof of the need for change?
As California prepares to vote on Proposition 19, which would legalize recreational use of marijuana for people 18 and older, a new study by the NAACP finds that the state’s African-American and Latino residents are far more likely to be arrested for low-level pot possession, even though whites, according to government statistics, use the drug in greater numbers.
“Since 1990, arrests for nearly every serious crime have declined in California,” the report says. “Yet arrests for possession of marijuana, usually for very small amounts, have tripled. In 2009 alone, police departments in California made 61,000 marijuana possession arrests. The people arrested were disproportionately African-Americans and Latinos, and overwhelmingly young people, especially young men.”
The report found that from 2006 to 2008, California African-Americans and Latinos were up to 12 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites. In Los Angeles County, for instance, where blacks account for only 10 percent of the population, they accounted for 30 percent of those arrested for pot possession.
And statistics compiled from 2004 through 2007 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services show that for both children and adults, whites report using marijuana at higher levels than either African-Americans or Hispanics.
Perhaps not surprisingly, given their findings, the California chapter of the NAACP supports the passage of Proposition 19. But a new law signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has already lessened the penalty for possession of marijuana, making it a mere infraction rather than a misdemeanor.
Meanwhile, the latest polls show support for Proposition 19 weakening somewhat, with Latino support having eroded slightly since September.
Here is a copy of the full study.
– Article from AOL News.