Marijuana Legalization: 10 States Where the War On Drugs Has Become the War On Color


Though decriminalization and legalization legislation seems to be passing at a higher rate than ever across the 50 United States, an American Civil Liberties Union study illustrates that arrests on U.S. citizens in relation to marijuana are still on a steady incline as well. In fact, prosecution for Mary Jane, 88% of which is flagged under possession, now accounts for over half (52%) of all drug arrests in the U.S., and in some states as much as 80.6% (Alaska). In 2010, states spent a combined $3.6 billion enforcing marijuana possession law alone, and the country has rung up a bill of over trillions of dollars over the past four decades. Beyond these hard numbers, however, lies an even stickier (yes, pun intended) situation: the United States's 40-year long War on Drugs has also, through the years, become a War on Color.

Despite the fact that marijuana is used at comparable rates by whites and blacks across the nation, state and local governments have aggressively enforced marijuana laws selectively against Black people and communities. In 2010, a black person was 3.73 times more likely — and in some states over six times as likely — to be arrested for marijuana possession than a white person in the U.S., despite consumption at nearly identical rates in both communities.

Below are the ten most racially-biased states in America on marijuana arrests (in reverse order):

1. New York

Starting off our list with a total of 535,000 arrests, the Empire State targets 4.52 more blacks than whites in its War on Marijuana.

2. Nebraska

Next is Nebraska, where black citizens are 4.65 times more likely to be arrested for pot than their white neighbors.

3. South Dakota

South Dakota law enforcement arrests its black citizens for marijuana 4.79 times more often than it does its white citizens.

4. Pennsylvania

The Liberty Bell State is 5.19 times as likely to go after a black person than a white person on its drug hunt.

5. Kentucky

While there are only around 165,000 weed arrests in Kentucky, there is still a whopping 5.95 times more likely chance that these arrests will be on black citizens than white ones.

6. Wisconsin

Black citizens in Wisconsin are at 5.98 times more of a risk for marijuana arrest than their fellow white citizens.

7. Illinois

In Illinois, a black citizen is 7.56 times more likely to be prosecuted for one of over the 395,000 annual marijuana arrests that occur.

8. Minnesota

Minnesota's black citizens are arrested for pot 7.81 times more than whites.

9. Washington, D.C.

The heart of the United States, our capital city and my current hometown, unfortunately arrests blacks 8.05 times more than whites annually for marijuana association.

10. Iowa

And finally, ending our list with an outstandingly uncomfortable 8.34 likelihood of blacks being arrested over whites for marijuana affiliation is Iowa. And in a state where 93% of the population is white, this statistic is scarier than ever.