The cannabis justice system

Credit: Brad Gregg

Black-and-white because some believe its medicinal benefits outweigh the stigma. Others want to nip that conversation in the bud.

all over because Oklahomans both black and white use the drug at
comparable rates. But — and here’s the punch line — black citizens in
the state are arrested nearly three times as much as white citizens for
pot possession, ac- cording to a national report examining marijuana arrest rates.

it? “The aggressive policing of marijuana is time-consuming, costly,
racially biased, and doesn’t work,” said Ezekiel Edwards, director of
the Criminal Law Reform Project at the American Civil Liberties Union
and one of the report authors.

fact, the report found, Oklahoma spent $30 million on marijuana law
enforcement in 2010 alone. That same year the U.S. spent more than $3.61
billion for the cause. That’s a lot of green.

“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,” Edwards said.

ACLU reported that Kay, Creek and Pontotoc counties experienced the
largest racial disparity in marijuana possession arrests. Statewide,
marijuana possession accounted for more than half of all drug arrests in
2010, according to the report.

Gazette staff

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