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ACLU Report Finds Major Race Disparity In Marijuana Arrests

Picture of marijuana plant
Colleen Danger, via flickr, Creative Commons

Anew report from the ACLU says African Americans are more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession in North Carolina.  The survey released today says African Americans were arrested at three times the rate of whites in 2010.  A US Health Department report from the same year showed similar rates of marijuana use among both ethnic groups nationwide. 

Mike Meno of the North Carolina ACLU says local law enforcement's arrest quota is driving the racial disparity.

"Law enforcement look to the low hanging fruit and there's no better example than low-level marijuana possession arrests," Meno says. "So I think a lot of it is this culture of having to show arrest numbers and all to often it results in law enforcement officers going into low-income communities and communities of color."

The report names Hoke County as having the largest gap of arrests between white and black residents.  African Americans there were being arrested at nearly 10 times the rate of whites.  The Hoke County Sheriff's Department and other law enforcement agencies were not available for comment.  The ACLU says marijuana possession laws are not effective and cost too much to enforce.  The report suggests legalizing and regulating marijuana.

Will Michaels is WUNC's Weekend Host and Reporter.
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