It’s Not Just NYC: Across America, Only Black and Brown People Get Arrested for Pot

New York City, the pot-bust capital of the Western world, is notorious for the racial skewing of its marijuana arrests. Over the last 15 years, more than 85 percent of the half-million-plus people charged with misdemeanor possession there have been black or Latino.

But the racial ratios of reefer roundups are equally extreme—if not worse—in scores of other U.S. cities. In Atlanta, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Washington, more than 80 percent of the people popped for pot possession are black. In Minneapolis and its Hennepin County suburbs, black people are 11 percent of the population and more than half of those busted for buds.

“Just about every major metropolitan area in the country has similar disparity issues,” says Neill Franklin, executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and former commander of the Maryland State Police’s drug bureau.

“With minor variations, it’s the same everywhere,” says Jon Gettman, a visiting professor of criminal justice at Shenandoah University in Virginia. Gettman, says Allen St. Pierre of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, has been researching marijuana-arrest numbers more obsessively than anyone for the last 20 years, extracting them from data in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report.

Nationally, Gettman says, in 2008 black people were 12 percent of the U.S. population, but 31.6 percent of those arrested for pot possession in cases where race was reported to the FBI. (2008 is the most recent year for which detailed figures are available.)

In the six urban areas where Gettman found the highest rates of marijuana arrests, the handcuffs most often clamped black wrists. In Baltimore, Louisville, Omaha, Atlanta, and Syracuse and Buffalo in upstate New York, the arrest rate for black people exceeded 1 out of 65.

– Read the entire article at AlterNet.



  1. Anonymous on

    he arcist white man,Iam white but mostly dont like whites casue they try to excuse racial claims like a plague fess up mofos, they are targetting people of color to be the criminals juts soo wrong

  2. Anonymous on

    ur probably white

  3. Anonymous on

    ive noticed a lot of young black guys that smoke pot aren’t careful with it at all.they seem to not care about getting caught in the first place. When they roll it up (say in a car) the seeds go everywhere, and always roaches in the ashtray, and they seen to make no effort to clean it up. Im not saying they all do this but in my experience its easier to spot black guys that smoke pot, this has go to be pretty common if i know multiple guys like this. So therefore a good chunk of the time they are arrested more because they dont give a s%&$ like others do.

  4. Anonymous on

    There’s always two sides to the story. I come from an area where the population is mostly caucasian. But the steer this away from remarks on race, there’s two types of tokers in regards to this. Some smoke marijuana peacefully, mostly indoors or outdoors away from the public eye, and others tend to smoke marijuana publically, while “not giving a f**k, and engage in other illegal behaviours while under the influence or while smoking, such as driving while high, stealing. The people in the later group also tend to give attitude to officers, or try to run away, or they are also engaging in public drinking. That also increases the odds of being arrested. While I belong the first group myself, I’ve encountered cops three times, and all three times I’ve been let off and there wasn’t any trouble.

    What I’m saying is that I think minority groups may have unfornutely and disportionately filled the second group. Although I couldn’t know anything about about miority groups in NYC, there isn’t a lot of black people where I come from, but there’s still tons of white people that get in trouble with the law, and they all belong to the second group. I’ve never met someone like myself who’s been arrested for marijuana related charges. But then again, this only my experience, I’m not sure if anyone else has had similar experiences.

  5. Anonymous on

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