SPECIAL TO THE COURIER
WASHINGTON – According to a report released Monday evening that details marijuana possession arrest rates in the United States from 2001 to 2010, Florida is among the nation’s leaders in marijuana possession arrests, and marijuana possession laws are disproportionately enforced against Blacks.
Florida had the third most total arrests for marijuana possession in 2010 (57,951) and the country’s 11th highest arrest rate for marijuana possession (308 per 100,000) in 2010. Miami-Dade County had the ninth most arrests for possession of any county in the country, and Broward and Orange Counties had the 16th and 23rd most arrests, respectively.
“Marijuana prohibition is taking a toll on the entire country, but Florida is among the states paying the biggest price,” said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Law enforcement resources would be better spent addressing serious crimes instead of arresting adults for using a substance objectively less harmful than alcohol.”
Higher rate in Miami-Dade
Researchers also found that Blacks in Florida were arrested for marijuana possession at more than four times the rate of Whites, and they accounted for more than 46 percent of marijuana possession arrests.
In Miami-Dade County, they were arrested at a nearly five-and-a-half times greater rate. Nationwide, Whites and Blacks use marijuana at comparable rates, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The report does not provide Latino arrest rates because federal arrest statistics do not distinguish between White and Latino arrests.
“Marijuana prohibition laws are not only irrational, but also unfair,” Tvert said. “Discrimination against communities of color played a role in their creation, and it continues to play a role in their enforcement.”
The report, prepared by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), is based on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program and the United States Census Bureau’s annual county population estimates.
The full report is available at http://www.aclu.org/criminal-law-reform/war-marijuana-black-and-white-report.