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Blacks in Minnesota 8 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana than whites, study says

The study indicates Minnesota is not so welcoming for blacks who smoke weed.
The study indicates Minnesota is not so welcoming for blacks who smoke weed.
Image by Tatiana Craine

Whatever the reason, Minnesota cops are far more likely to arrest blacks for pot possession than whites, according to a new study by the ACLU.

SEE ALSO: Mark Hamburger's MLB career derailed by pot; he now lives in parents' Shoreview basement

According to the study, blacks were nearly eight times as likely to be arrested for pot in 2010, the last year for which numbers are available. In Ramsey County, blacks were 9.1 times more likely to be arrested.

From a summary of the study:

The findings show that while there were pronounced racial disparities in marijuana arrests 10 years ago, they have grown significantly worse...

In Minnesota, the counties with the largest racial disparities in marijuana possession arrests were Hennepin, Ramsey, and Dakota. Statewide, police officers made 7,494 arrests for marijuana possession in 2010, and marijuana possession rates accounted for 42.8 percent of all drug arrests in 2010. From 2001-2010, overall marijuana possession arrest rates fell -0.5% and the racial disparities among such arrests increased 231%.

Despite the fact that a majority of Americans now support marijuana legalization, Minnesota spent as much as 69 million dollars enforcing marijuana laws in 2010. Nationally, states spent a combined $3.61 billion enforcing marijuana possession laws in 2010 alone.

Nationally, the study found that blacks are nearly four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession, despite comparable usage rates with whites. In 2010, there was a marijuana arrest every 30 seconds in America.

"The War on Marijuana has disproportionately been a war on people of color," Ezekiel Edwards, Director of the Criminal Law Reform Project at the ACLU and one of the primary authors of the report, said in a release. "State and local governments have aggressively enforced marijuana laws selectively against black people and communities, needlessly ensnaring hundreds of thousands of people in the criminal justice system at tremendous human and financial cost."

The ACLU supports the full decriminalization of pot. Last month, a bill to legalize medical marijuana was introduced with support from both sides of the aisle in the legislature. The bill didn't go anywhere before the session came to a close, but supporters have promised to vigorously push it next year.

It's unclear, however, whether Governor Dayton would sign. When asked about medical pot last winter, Dayton said, "I don't think we need another drug operating in our society."

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at arupar@citypages.com.


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