Community
4:35 pm
Fri June 7, 2013

ACLU Study Finds "Staggering" Racial Bias When Enforcing Marijuana Laws

An American Civil Liberties Union study indicates that 12 counties in Texas have the highest rates of marijuana arrests for members of the African American community.

The study put out by the national office of the ACLU shows that in the past ten years, Texas as a whole saw a 51 percent jump in marijuana arrests of African-Americans. 

"Blacks in Texas are more than twice as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession and there are some counties in Texas where blacks are up to 20 times and 30 times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession. So what this tells us is that our police departments are enforcing marijuana laws along color lines," said Rebecca Robertson, the legal and policy director with the ACLU of Texas.

Robertson said a related study of the issues shows that whites and black use marijuana at the same rate.  

She said the ACLU will be taking the data from the study and begin investigating why African Americans are being targeted for marijuana arrests.

"So I think the next steps for us are to work with the law enforcement agencies and figure out what are the drivers of this disparity. We are calling on the law enforcement agencies to show some leadership and get the problem fixed," Robertson said.

The group has sent letters along with the study to the 12 Texas counties with the highest level of African American marijuana arrests.