D.C. legalized marijuana, but one thing didn’t change: Almost everyone arrested on pot charges is Black

Police in D.C. are far more likely to arrest Blacks than Whites for marijuanarelated offenses, five years after the city enacted reforms that proponents hoped would end racial disparities in enforcement.

Although marijuana arrests have declined by more than half, African Americans still account for just under 90 percent of those arrested on all pot-related charges, according to a Washington Post analysis, even as they make up 45 percent of the city’s population.

And while studies show that marijuana use is equally prevalent among Blacks and Whites, 84 percent of more than 900 people arrested for public consumption in the nation’s capital were African American in the four years after legalization.

At a time when police treatment of African Americans is a focus of broad concern, the analysis echoes national studies that have shown the persistence of racial disparities as enforcement has declined in states where marijuana has been legalized.

A D.C. police spokeswoman declined to comment on the disparity, noting that arrests for consumption or possession of small amounts of marijuana have declined significantly since legalization.

But advocates and defense attorneys said police still focus on the city’s poorer, mostly Black neighborhoods because that’s where officer deployments and investigations of violent crime are concentrated. [Read more at The Washington Post]

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