As crime rates continue to drop around the country, cannabis arrests are on the rise. While these numbers are up a staggering amount in just the last year, what’s even more interesting is who is being arrested. African-Americans are being hauled to jail, slapped with steep fines and having their lives severely affected for possessing small amounts of personal use cannabis more than any other race. Whether they’re stopped while walking, riding bikes or during routine traffic stops, it seems officers, not surprisingly, are showing a large bias towards the African-American community.
According to a new study released by the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch, over the last decade, violent crime arrests, like rape, serious assaults, and murder, have declined 36% across the nation.
Nearly all other categories of crime that result in a victim have also been greatly reduced. Oddly enough, though, cannabis arrests have risen 13.6% over just the last year, a number that should be decreasing more quickly than others given that many states and cities are legalizing or decriminalizing small possession amounts.
The startling statistics show that our law enforcement has become so consumed with eradicating a plant, they’re focusing more on this minuscule, victimless crime, and less on the dangerous crimes that leave victims scarred for life.
In 2015, police arrested 574,641 people for possession of cannabis. Meanwhile, they arrested just 505,681 for violent crimes. While it could be fair to say that less violent crimes are taking place, it’s more likely that officers are simply missing the mark.
African-Americans are at a greater risk
Study author, Tess Borden, has worked at Human Rights Watch and the A.C.L.U. for a number of years and says she is not surprised by the rise in numbers, namely the rise in African-Americans being arrested for possession, despite what the popular opinion of the public might be.
Most people don’t think drug possession is the number one public safety concern, but that’s what we’re seeing.
Thanks in large part to police bias, African-Americans are being stopped and frisked more than any other race, a rising problem across the nation.
In some places, blacks are four times more likely to stopped and questioned than whites.
After the fatal shooting of Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte, North Carolina, police said he attacked them partly because he was high on cannabis. Anyone that smoke regularly understands that cannabis does not cause a person to become aggressive.
Using this as a reason for taking a man’s life is just one more way police are trying to persecute African-American men and the cannabis community.
Another reason we see such a large increase in African-Americans being arrested for victimless cannabis crimes is because law enforcement agencies patrol areas that have higher minority populations more heavily than any other area.
It only makes sense that if there are more police present, more “crimes” will be found. Inimai M. Chettiar, director of the Justice Program at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice, says this unfair patrolling is the main reason African-Americans are put at such a disadvantage.
It is selective enforcement, and the example I like to use is that you have all sorts of drug use inside elite college dorms, but you don’t see the police busting through doors.