Weed Legalization Can’t Seem to Fix One Thing: Racial Gaps in Drug Arrests


For all of the health and fiscal benefits of marijuana legalization, the racial gap in weed arrests isn't budging.

Black Americans who live in states where recreational marijuana has been legalized are still being arrested for offenses related to the substance at higher rates than other groups, according to a recent data analysis from the Washington Post that focused on Washington state and Colorado. 

Read more: The Booming Marijuana Industry Is Still Too White

Even though overall drug arrests dropped 90% in Washington and 60% in Colorado between 2008 and 2014, the post-legalization arrest rates for blacks were still double the rates for nonblacks, according to Mike Males, a senior research fellow at the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice.

David Zalubowski/AP

"I am surprised and disappointed by this," Males told the Washington Post. "The forces that contribute to racial disparities under prohibition are clearly still in place after legalization."

According to data from the American Civil Liberties Union, a black person is well over three times more likely to be arrested for having marijuana than a white person.

America's drug war may be changing shape, but African-Americans are still caught in its crosshairs.  

Watch this episode of 'The Movement' where Darnell L. Moore talks to Wanda James, the only black woman who owns a legal marijuana dispensary in Colorado:

h/t Washington Post