May 22, 2018
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Blacks 3 Times As Likely As Whites to be Arrested for Marijuana Possession, New Report Shows


Most Exhaustive Set of Marijuana Arrest Data Ever Shows No Relation Between Arrests and Use Rates; Penalty Structure Boosts Illicit Market



WASHINGTON, D.C. — The most exhaustive collection of data ever on U.S. marijuana arrests, penalties and related information, released today, finds no relationship between marijuana arrest and use rates, while penalty structures act as a price support mechanism that boosts the illegal market. Assembled by Jon Gettman, Adjunct Assistant Professor in Criminal Justice at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Virginia, the new report finds:

·      Although the rate of marijuana use is only about 25 percent higher for African-Americans than for whites, blacks are three times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession as whites

·      Marijuana arrests have nearly doubled since 1991, while levels of marijuana use remained fundamentally unchanged. Males aged 15 to 24 account for 52% of all marijuana arrests.

·      Penalties that escalate for increased amounts of marijuana encourage consumers to make multiple   small purchases, acting as a price support for the illicit market.

         “It’s clear from these figures that America’s war on marijuana is in large part a war on young, black men, a war that turns youthful experimentation into a lifelong criminal record that can slam the door on jobs and educational opportunities,” said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C. “Most Americans agree that marijuana prohibition doesn’t work, even if most politicians aren’t yet ready to publicly agree with their constituents.”

          Gettman’s summary report, “Marijuana Arrests in the United States (2007),” is available at The full Marijuana Policy Almanac, including state rankings and individual reports for all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, is at

         With more than 29,000 members and 100,000 e-mail subscribers nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. MPP believes that the best way to minimize the harm associated with marijuana is to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. For more information, please visit





CONTACT: Bruce Mirken, MPP director of communications …………… 415-585-6404 or 202-215-4205

                   Jon Gettman ………………………………………………...……………………540-822-5739


Marijuana Policy Project, POB 77492 Capitol Hill, Washington, DC 20013 United States


STORY TAGS: marijuana, arrest, young black men, illegal market, pot usage


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