Black people are three-and-a-half times more likely to be arrested for possessing marijuana in New Jersey than whites, and the disparity has increased over the past 10 years, according to a new national report from the American Civil Liberties Union.
The study, covering 2010-2018, found about 900 arrests per 100,000 people for New Jersey blacks by the end of the study period compared with less than 300 for whites, even though the two racial groups use marijuana at about the same rate. Nationally, black people were 3.6 times more likely to be arrested for possession, which represents some 90% of marijuana-related arrests.
Legalizing marijuana would help to end a pattern of racism that has hurt black and Hispanic people, the ACLU said, urging all states to begin to legalize or decriminalize use of the drug as 11 states and the District of Columbia have now done.
“The question no longer is whether the U.S. should legalize marijuana — it should — or whether marijuana legalization is about racial equity — it is,” the group said in a 110-page report titled “A Tale of Two Countries,” released on Monday. It said New Jersey is 25th among states in a ranking of racial disparities for marijuana-related arrests.