Blacks were disproportionately cited by Seattle police for consuming pot in public in the first six months of 2014, the Seattle Times reports. The police department said officers wrote 82 tickets for public pot consumption in the first half of the year, with 37 percent of those going to blacks. Blacks account for 8 percent of the Seattle population. Half the tickets went to whites, who represent 70 percent of city residents. Racially disproportionate enforcement of marijuana laws is one of the chief arguments used by advocates for legalizing pot.
A national study by the ACLU found that 3.7 blacks were arrested for every white on pot charges. Survey data from the U.S. Public Health Service shows that blacks and whites consume pot at nearly the same rates; in 2010, 14 percent of blacks and 12 percent of whites reported using pot in the previous year. Overall, women accounted for just 11 percent of the citations; 41 percent of all people who received tickets lived in low-income housing, shelters, motels, or vacant lots. People cited ranged in age from 18 to 77. The real issue is who police are likely to contact in downtown public spaces for violating the law, said Loren Atherley, a Seattle Police Department criminologist and co-author of the report.