If you’re black in Minnesota, you’re six times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than your white counterparts, even though drug use rates are similar, says a new study reported by the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The report by MN2020, which looked at FBI arrest data for 2011, showed that the racial disparity in marijuana possession arrests in Minnesota was more than twice the national average. Though a possession arrest is a low-level offense, it can have long-lasting socioeconomic effects on individuals and families, the report said.
“In Minnesota, African-Americans made up a little less than six percent of the population, but made up more than 27 percent of marijuana arrests,” said MN2020 director Steve Fletcher. “That kind of overrepresentation cannot be accounted for without racial bias. It means black Minnesotans are bearing a disproportionate share of the personal and collateral costs of our war on drugs.” The American Civil Liberties Union’s Teresa Nelson said, “These disparities are largely a byproduct of a shift to preemptive, ‘broken windows’ policing, which concentrates on low-level offenses such as marijuana possession and other quality of life offenses, largely in communities of color and in poor communities.” The ACLU urged changing policing models to more problem-oriented policing, which uses arrest as a last resort.