New federal data shows black Americans were nearly four times as likely as whites to be arrested for marijuana possession in 2010, the New York Times reports.
This is despite the fact that blacks and whites reportedly smoked weed at similar rates that year. The Times says the data gives a more nuanced picture of marijuana enforcement on the state level.
For instance, in states like Iowa, Minnesota and Illinois, blacks were as much as eight times more likely to be arrested than whites. The overall disparity has grown steadily over the last decade.
This week, the American Civil Liberties Union’s Criminal Law Reform Project will release its own report on the disparities.
“We found that in virtually every county in the country, police have wasted taxpayer money enforcing marijuana laws in a racially biased manner,” said Ezekiel Edwards, the director of the A.C.L.U.’s project and lead author of the report.