U.S. Research | Black

The Ongoing Arrest Disparity in Marijuana-Legal States

A recent study conducted by YouthFacts analyzing FBI Criminal Justice Information Services data has found that although arrests in states that have legalized marijuana possession have dropped dramatically, a disproportionate number of black people continue to be arrested relative to non-black peers. While arrests for marijuana in both marijuana-legal and marijuana-illegal states have been trending downward, the ongoing post-reform disparity continues to point to enforcement- rather than law-based problems in the U.S. criminal justice system.

877.8 (2008) vs. 57.2 (2014)

Black arrest rate in Washington (per 100,000)

390.5 (2008) vs. 27.3 (2014)

Non-black arrest rate in Washington (per 100,000)

601.3 (2008) vs. 242.2 (2014)

Black arrest rate in Colorado (per 100,000)

293.3 (2008) vs. 103.8 (2014)

Non-black arrest rate in Colorado (per 100,000)

2.7 (marijuana-legal) vs. 3.0 (marijuana-legal)

Disparity in arrest rates across states

-76% (marijuana-legal) vs. -15% (marijuana-illegal)

Decrease in arrest rates across states from 2008 to 2014

Marijuana-legal states included: Colorado, Washington
Marijuana-illegal states included
: California, Connecticut, Massachusetts

Read more:
Are Young People and African Americans Better Off under Marijuana Reform? (YouthFacts)
Pot legalization hasn’t done anything to shrink the racial gap in drug arrests” (The Washington Post)
Black People Twice As Likely To Be Arrested For Pot In Colorado And Washington — Where It’s Legal” (ThinkProgress)