Black city residents more likely to be busted for pot, ACLU says 

click to enlarge marijuana

In San Francisco, black people are more than four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana crimes than whites, according to a new report from the American Civil Liberties Union.

The arrest rate for blacks in The City is double the nationwide average — 2.2 black people are arrested for pot crimes for every white person who is arrested — and has the highest racial disparity of any county in California, according to the report, The War on Marijuana in Black and White: Billions of Dollars Wasted on Racially Biased Arrests.

The ACLU went through arrest rates in 50 states, county by county, and found that marijuana arrests have increased steadily since 2001 and that those detentions account for 46 percent of all drug arrests.

Nationwide, a black person is 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for a marijuana offense, despite white people using marijuana at a similar rate.

"In over 96% of counties with more than 30,000 population in which at least 2% of the residents are Black, Blacks are arrested at higher rates than whites for marijuana possession," the report found.

In California, five counties had racially disparate arrest figures above that national average: San Francisco, Marin, Lake, Sacramento and Kern counties, according to the report.

San Francisco and Marin have the most racially disparate numbers, with 192 black people arrested for pot for every 44 white people in San Francisco, and 507 blacks arrested for every 123 whites in Marin.

The numbers for San Francisco are also disparate despite the steadily declining black population in The City. Black residents are about 6.3 percent of the population in The City, according to census figures. Caucasians make up about 42 percent of San Francisco. There are five times as many whites as blacks in The City, yet there are four times as many black people arrested for pot than whites, according to the report.

In a statement released late Wednesday, the Police Department denied any racial profiling. San Francisco police arrested 11 people — five whites, five blacks and one Latino — for misdemeanor marijuana possession offenses in 2011, out of a total of 14,000 misdemeanor arrests. All of those marijuana arrests were "secondary" to other offenses, police said.

Drug arrests were down 16 percent in The City from 2011 to 2012, according to the most recent police data.

About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts

Bio:
Chris Roberts has worked as a reporter in San Francisco since 2008, with an emphasis on city governance and politics, The City’s neighborhoods, race, poverty and the drug war.
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