From the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maryland:
Today, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maryland released a new report, The Maryland War on Marijuana in Black and White, which provides a detailed county-by-county analysis of marijuana possession arrest data in Maryland. Using official Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and U.S. Census data, the report shows that over the last ten years, the number of people arrested for marijuana possession in Maryland has increased dramatically – by 34 percent – and that, despite comparable rates of marijuana use across race, communities of color are policed differently for marijuana possession. In every county in Maryland, Blacks are disproportionately targeted for enforcement of marijuana laws.
In Harford County in 2010, Blacks made up 13 percent of the population, but 23 percent of all arrests. Blacks in Harford County were almost twice as likely (1.9x) as Whites to be arrested for marijuana possession.
Key statewide findings from the report include:
Maryland now has one of the highest rates of arrests for marijuana possession in the nation.
Between 2001 and 2010, arrests for marijuana possession increased dramatically in Maryland – by 34 percent.
Even though Blacks and Whites use marijuana at comparable rates, police arrest Blacks for marijuana possession at higher rates than Whites in every county in Maryland.
Racial disparities in marijuana arrests worsened dramatically in Maryland from 2001 to 2010. During that time, the number of Black arrests increased by 5,614 – but the White arrests increased by only 371.
Maryland spent approximately $106 million enforcing marijuana possession laws in 2010 alone.
“Now is the time to end this racially disparate approach of stopping, searching, arresting and jailing people in Maryland for possession of marijuana because it not only wastes limited resources, but it hurts communities and erodes trust with law enforcement,” said Sara Love, Public Policy Director of the ACLU of Maryland. “With this Maryland report, the ACLU of Maryland will be strongly advocating for reform in the 2014 legislative session.”
The Maryland report is drawn from a national ACLU report, Marijuana in Black and White: Billions of Dollars Wasted on Racially Biased Arrests, released in June. That report showed that, nationally, African Americans were nearly three times as likely as whites to be arrested for simple marijuana possession in 2010, even though research consistently shows comparable rates of use across race.
In Maryland, police arrest one out of every 250 people for marijuana possession; the state is now fourth highest in the country in marijuana possession arrests per capita and seventh highest in the country in terms of the raw number of marijuana possession arrests – outranking far more populous states like Pennsylvania and Ohio, which have more than twice the population of Maryland. In Maryland, marijuana possession arrests now make up 90% of all marijuana-related arrests and 50% of all drug arrests. And while African-Americans comprise only 30 percent of the state’s population, they are 58 percent of arrests for marijuana possession. Even more shockingly, race disparities in arrests worsened between 2001 and 2010 – during that time period, Black arrests increased by 69%, compared to four percent for Whites.
“This report proves something we police have known for a long time: The drug war is inherently racist in its execution,” said Neill Franklin, Executive Director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). “Inequities in arrest rates affect the life opportunities of Blacks and create distrust between police and the communities they serve. And as a Maryland police officer for 34 years, I can tell you that race-based policing of marijuana users does nothing to make communities safer.”
Maryland voters are ready for marijuana reform. A poll commissioned by the ACLU and the Marijuana Policy Project in October showed that 53 percent of Maryland voters support making marijuana legal for adults and regulating it like alcohol. Only 38 percent said they were opposed. The poll also found that more than two-thirds (68 percent) support removing criminal penalties for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and replacing them with a civil offense punishable by a fine of up to $100 with no possibility of jail time. Only 26 percent said they were opposed. Under current Maryland law, it is a criminal offense for a person to possess a small amount of marijuana, and he or she can be sentenced to up to 90 days in jail and fined up to $500.
The ACLU of Maryland supports legislation to legally tax and regulate marijuana. Last session, the group also supported legislation that would have decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana. While the bill made historic progress by passing the State Senate, the bill stalled in the House Judiciary Committee.
Arrests for possession of even the smallest amounts of marijuana have often resulted in greater difficulty obtaining a job, losing student financial aid, deportations, losing custody of children, or ineligibility for public housing. Just as importantly, for every person who is found with marijuana, many more who have done nothing wrong are subjected to humiliating stops and searches by police – disproportionately people of color.
The Money Trer says
Sat it ain’t so… Took a college degree to figure that out
ACLU involved. This ought to be good and costly. Their funds running low? Based on figures, assumptions and liberal media I have little doubt. “We” will discard facts and past history. Take a “snapshot” picture and run with it. Flush TAX, gas TAX, rain TAX, and now …. (?). More money to the well deserved and excellently managed state of MARYland. Bend over folks. Lawsuit forthcoming … or out of court settlement (at the cost of the taxpayer).
ACLU is the American Civil Liberties Union fighting against NSA. What’s the beef with them? reputable stats, what is wrong with them as a legitimate organization?
This would have been ground-breaking investigative journalism 50 years ago but I think we’re getting a bit jaded by these regular “Pity The Persecuted Blacks” stories. Still, the ACLU has to keep beating the drum so that the donations keep rolling in, otherwise they’d have to chase ambulances for a living.
(Sorry for the snide comment; that was uncalled for and unkind.)
Colorado just passed a 25% tax hike on their recreational marijuana. Can you imagine what kind of revenue Maryland could be making from our marijuana smoking community, no matter the race? No cost to arrest, prosecute and jail an offender plus a 25% tax on their weed! Just sayin’. Hey, maybe they could take the revenues and use them for the schools, just like they did with the casino profits…oh wait…that never happened.
Just like many slave owners and anti women groups denounced the pity stories of women wanting the right to vote and mocked the abolitionists fighting for the right of all men to have freedom. Same concept here, people should have the right to be free from police profiling them based on the way their features and color looks.
Let’s be fair if Bob Chance was Black would he still have his farm and not done time?
He does still have his farm??
Yup, unless he sold it!
Usually people get arrested for weed during a search for something else. FYI… druggies, while carrying weed in your pocket try not to do something else illegal. Take your weed to your basement and smoke it there! Rich white kids at Cocaine High (Fallston) take their stuff to the shed and don’t hang out on street corners waiting for the popo to show up and frisk them!!
Heroin High – so named after a heroin overdose took the life of a student back in the late 90’s. Get it right.
Did you not read the article? They get searched for being black because they’re racially profiled whereas whites are not. Which part of that don’t you get? No, you get it, you just don’t care because it doesn’t effect you so you have no empathy for it. Most whites aren’t racist but pretend to deny the facts because they’re selfish. They want this injustice to continue, as blacks take the heat off of them, their ilk can keep committing the worst crimes and get away with it because of skin color. No integrity, no character just evil from people like that.
Yea, white people get searched for something else when they’ve actually committed some crime or suspicious act. Blacks just get searched for being black. Black is the searchable offense. God, some people are dense and in denial both, so the injustice can continue unchallenged. Try being black some day then get back to us. Sitting on your high perch and commenting and dismissing what black people go through is hubris of the highest order, it’s disgusting, self-serving narcissistic BS.
vietnam vet says
Bob Chance’s status in life put him above the law. out standing citizen Mentor to our children.
Tongue in cheek right? I remember him in high school. He flew into a tirade, shouting at me when I told him bigfoot didn’t exist. What a dbag.
Rev Sharpton says
Big Foot Black Foot Whats the difference??
Hedley Lamarr says
Weed should be legalized, unfortunately it won’t because it keeps some law enforcement employed. alcohol is more dangerous, how many kids have died of weed poisoning vs alcohol poisoning, drunk driving vs weed driving, etc., taxes on weed could pay for all health insurance cost.
Big Joe says
Hedley, I thought you were a cop. From past postings I thought you disliked Bane. Now, I see what you have said about keeping some law enforcement employed. So, now I know why you have made negative comments about Bane.
Here we go with the black versus white crap again.
Trying to dismiss racism by calling it “white vs black” crap or made up carp is just evil. Just shows inability and unwillingness of some people to be fair. The more you try to deny it, the more we know why. You want one group to continue to benefit unfairly from preferential treatment. Pretty disgusting.
I don’t think they are being targeted for weed.
They may be doing / committing other activities that are drawing police attention before getting busted.
For the people that think they are targeting blacks unfairly, please..come walk around the Edgewater village shopping center for a while ( after dark, of course ) and compare it to the Festival in Bel Air.
Maybe blacks are dumb enough to get caught more.
You ever think of that?
Maybe the blacks smoking weed in Harford County should move back to Baltimore City so their arrest rates are more closely resemble to the population of black citizens.
………….. and take the American Criminal Liberties Union with you.
How can the ACLU definitively say usage rates are equal between blacks and whites in Harco? I mean, if whites aren’t arrested for possession then how are the usage stats being collected? Are whites volunteering the information freely, saying “yep…I use marijuana and I don’t get arrested…”. Or, are the police busting whites for possession and then only issuing a warning?
On another note, I can’t stand seeing the phrase “African American” in a sentence, only to be followed by “white” in the same sentence. For example:
“…African Americans were nearly three times as likely as whites to be arrested…”
Why can whites be called “whites” but blacks are called African Americans? When describing race, more accurate descriptors would be “caucasian” and “negro”, I believe. Or, if blacks find the word “negro” offensive (not sure why, since it was good enough for MLK to use in his ‘I Have A Dream’ speech) then just stick with “black” and “white”. We have become slaves to political correctness. Yep, I said “slaves”…….I’m such a racist! We need to put political correctness in the cross-hairs and target it for elimination. Oh no!….I used the phrase “cross-hairs”, along with “target” and “elimination”!…..I must be promoting gun violence!….
Hedley Lamarr says
Hell, How may are German-American, Irish-American, Latino-American, Jewish-American, Japanese-American, 7-11-American, Pizza spinner-American, Chinese-American, Canadian-American, Russian-American, so on an so on, next time I’m not referred to as the country my Great, Great, Great, Great, Great grandparents are from I’m contacting the ACLU to file a law suit against somebody, not sure who somebody is but were going to court, I have a lawyer, I will call one of those 800 numbers I see on TV.
Jesse Jackass says
Call me and I will help. I am paid to put an end to discrimination. I am desperate, so call me so that I can stand for you.
Otto Schmidla[ says
Not to put too fine a point on it, but not all whites are Caucasians. Because my roots are in Wales and Scotland – and not the Caucasus Mountains – that makes me a Celt. Cheers!
And that’s exactly why the correct ethnic term for white Americans should be “European-American”, not “Caucasian”. I am very proud of my Western European roots, and if we are going to be PC in describing our citizens, let’s do it right.
My background shows and says I am European American, but the U.S. Government says I am “white.”
I’m glad the general population has more sense than the commenters here. Eventually the politicians will catch up to the rest of us and recognize that weed is probably less harmful than alcohol and belongs in the same category. Prohibition is unfair to everyone and shouldn’t have to be seen in racial terms.
And BTW: Bob Chance never did anything to hurt anybody. For those who nothing of our history, he has always been a positive force. One person’s rule-breaking is another person’s taking seriously the idea that we live in a free country.
Hurting someone is not the point. The point was if he was Black he would have had his farm confiscated and been put in jail!!!! Second the fact that you all are just willing to give him a free passillustrates firmly how the law is not applied justly!
Fact is like it or not it is a crime. I do not agree it should be a crime but it is. The whole point is that a crime for one person should be a crime if committed by anyone else. Clearly it isn’t!
The Money Tree says
Truth is if he were black he could have called a quarter acre with a potted plant a farm and qualify for Pigford money.
You can do the same thing white or black but that is neither here nor there!
Rev Sharpton says
CDEV – what is your position on a black president that continues to lie about Obamacare?
You want him to address a lie? Let’s begin with a $400 billion lie that got people killed and destroyed a lot of big ticket military hardware and crushed our credibility? Or does that pale in comparison to a flawed attempt to benefit the sick and poor in this country?
Rev Sharpton says
Simple question for a simple man. Get off of your George Bush nonsense. It will be a cold day in hell before a black liberal will ever be elected president again.
It is irrelevant that the president is black. I don’t like all politicians that lie. That includes liberals and conservatives that lie about the ACA.
I understand that his farm was confiscated and he had to buy it back. Not to mention the legal fees and the slander seen on sites like this. A law that you agree is unjust hurts all people, regardless of color.
No he got 18 months probation and paid a 35000 fine!
It hurts others more. Bob Chance was facing 20 for his pot and shrooms operation. Other people would have done time. Others would have forfeited their tree farm!
Sounds like black communities are getting more and better police protection than whites. What’s the squawk?
Rev Sharpton says
Blacks comprise 11% of the population and commit 50% of the nations murders. Set Obama’s children free…
Jesse Jackass says
YOU Tell them, Al.
Maybe whites are smarter and leave and do their drugs at home. Maybe they know better than to consent to vehicle searches. Maybe if the blacks stayed in school and learned about the constitution they would exercise their rights and stay out of jail instead of consenting to searches knowing full well they will be caught.
No ‘maybe’ about it…
vietnam vet says
We all ready have enough Drunk drivers on the road. Includeing Ditty Boppers texting away. so we add a few High drivers to the all ready dangerous highway’s.
Jesse Jackass says
I know I am not too bright, but Vietnam vet, I don’t think I understand your post. All I know is prejudice when I see it.
vietnam vet says
Not intirely going to disagree with you’ Jesse.
Hedley Lamarr says
Big Joe, Don’t recall saying anything about Bane, I have said certain things about the department, Bane cannot control all lose cannons which there are a few. Some would say if you slam the department you slam Bane, I don’t buy into that, I’m very sure there is a lot crap that does not get to his level.
Terrance Johnson says
White folks be smokin in their cribs, with dem big bongs. We smoke our shit in the street, like a real mutha fucka should. Thats why we hard, thats why we get busted more cause we aint afraid to flaunt our shit! Fact for sure
sam hill says
Seriously….ok tough guy….and that’s why you need to be locked up like a rmf should….
ellen m says
Maybe you get busted more because your jacked up – neon, ex police car with your shiny wheels, blaring rap music with offensive language, transporting your family of 10, makes you a target.
Okay, I’ve had enough fun on here….serious comments now:
Getting busted for marijuana possession is usually the result of getting stopped (if in a vehicle) or being detained (if not in a vehicle) for something else. Sorry if this bothers some folks, but the simple truth is that blacks, as a group, show their disdain for the law much more than whites do, and thus give the police more motivation, and more reasons, to stop them. That’s why arrest rates are so much higher for blacks than for whites.
When you drive down the street with a taillight out, no seatbelt on, and speeding, you might as well put a neon sign on your car that says “STOP ME”. When you stand on a street corner in a group, in an area known for high crime, and then toss that soft-drink cup in the gutter, you’re giving the police an excuse to talk with you. And if you’re doing those things, the chances are pretty good that you’ve got something in your car, or on your person, that you shouldn’t be carrying.
Cops aren’t stupid. They know who commits crimes as well as the rest of us. That white boy from Jarrettsville hanging out at Harford Mall on a Friday night might have weed on him, but his black equivalent from Edgewood, hanging out at Edgewater Village, probably has a Glock as well.
Is there abuse by law enforcement in Harford County? Sure, especially by deputy sheriffs. But as the old saying goes, they can’t beat you over the head if you don’t give them the stick to do it with…