A report from the American Civil Liberties Union on racial disparities in marijuana arrests shows black Americans were almost four times more likely as white Americans to be arrested for possession, although use rates are nearly identical.
The ACLU compared data from every state’s police records, as well as those from the District of Columbia. Researchers from Stanford University also independently looked at the data.
Congressman Steve Cohen says the findings are proof that current policies regarding marijuana need to be reformed.
“The ACLU findings are alarming and must be addressed,” he said.
Tennessee’s marijuana arrests had a slightly higher racial disparity than the national average and the state was 15th in the number of total arrests for possession.
In 2010, 18,031 individuals were taken into custody for marijuana possession. According to the ACLU’s report, 191 white Tennesseans were arrested for every 771 black Tennesseans.
A report released in 1973 by the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse called for the decriminalization of marijuana, and Cohen recently wrote legislation to create a National Commission on Federal Marijuana Policy, which would look at racial disparities in arrest rates and current federal marijuana policy.
Click here to learn more about the National Commission on Federal Marijuana Policy.