Black Arrest Rate for Pot Use High in NJ, ACLU Charges

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African Americans in New Jersey are arrested for possession of marijuana about three times as often as Caucasians and Hispanics, and in some of the state’s smaller towns more than 25 to 30 times as often, says a study from the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, reports. An analysis of FBI data showed that police in New Jersey’s rural and suburban towns were more likely to arrest blacks disproportionately for marijuana than police in urban communities between 2000 and 2013. “The war on marijuana is a war on marijuana users, and it’s disproportionately a war on black communities,” said the ACLU’s Diane DuBrule.

The arrests ranged from possession of a joint to as much as 50 grams (less than two ounces). The rate of marijuana use among blacks and whites is similar, based on the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The survey said that 42.1 percent of blacks reported having used marijuana, compared with 48.9 percent of whites. The ACLU called on the state Attorney General’s office to investigate to determine the cause of the disparity and a possible remedy.

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