LOS ANGELES (AP) — The variety of felony marijuana arrests in California continued to say no in 2019 within the age of legalization, but one other development remained unchanged: these arrests fell disproportionately on Hispanics and Blacks, state information confirmed.
The California Department of Justice, in an annual snapshot of crime charges within the nation’s most populous state launched earlier this month, mentioned there have been 1,181 felony cannabis arrests final yr, down from 1,617 in 2018, the primary yr of broad legalization. That represents a 27% decline.
According to a breakdown of demographic information, Hispanics accounted for almost 42% of these arrests, adopted by Blacks, at 22%, with whites at 21%. Other teams accounted for the rest.
Arrest numbers declined but ‘harassment went up’
The total variety of arrests declined final yr, but “the harassment went up,” Donnie Anderson, co-founder of the cannabis commerce group California Minority Alliance, mentioned in an e-mail.
Ellen Komp, deputy director of the California arm of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, often known as NORML, mentioned Thursday the figures level to the problem many Hispanic and Black growers and sellers have had getting into the authorized market, which comes with hefty funding prices, taxes and regulatory charges.
The proportion of Black and Hispanic arrests “is troubling, especially now that we’ve legalized it,” Komp mentioned. “It’s legal if you have the venture capital to open up on Main Street.”
Racial disparities stay within the system
The report didn’t embody a breakdown of the fees, but they may embody such violations as unlicensed cultivation and gross sales of marijuana, or gross sales to a minor.
Misdemeanor marijuana arrests have been down barely in 2019: They numbered 3,769, versus 3,835 in 2018, NORML mentioned.
In an announcement, NORML mentioned Black residents have been 4.47 instances extra probably than whites to be arrested for a marijuana crime in California in 2019, in contrast with 4.05 instances as typically in 2018, when weighted for inhabitants. Hispanic residents have been about twice as probably as whites to be arrested, additionally up from 2018, the group mentioned.
Fewest California cannabis arrests in 65 years
The variety of felony arrests final yr marked the bottom determine since 1954, NORML mentioned.
California broadly legalized marijuana in January 2018, after voters accepted the transfer in 2016. In normal, California treats cannabis like alcohol, permitting individuals 21 and older to legally possess as much as an oz and develop six marijuana vegetation at dwelling. Shops, cultivation and manufacturing within the authorized market should be licensed by the state.
However, strong unlawful gross sales, freed from hefty taxes that may strategy 50% in some communities, proceed to outpace the authorized market.
Law enforcement has lengthy been criticized for disproportionate marijuana arrest charges for individuals of coloration. A research earlier this yr by the American Civil Liberties Union discovered that nationwide, Black persons are 3.6 instances extra probably than white individuals to be arrested for marijuana, regardless of related utilization charges.