Saint Paul, MN: African Americans are arrested for marijuana possession offenses in Minnesota at a rate that is more than six-times higher than that of Caucasians, according to an analysis of 2011 FBI arrest data conducted by the nonpartisan think-tank Minnesota 2020 and commissioned in part by Minnesota NORML.
Although African Americans comprise less than six percent of the state's population, they represented over 27 percent of those persons arrested for violating marijuana possession laws in 2011. By comparison, whites comprise some 87 percent of the state's population and constituted 69 percent of those arrested for violating marijuana possession laws. "Thus, the black arrest rate for marijuana possession was 687 (per 100,000) and the white arrest rate was 107 (per 100,000), making blacks 6.4 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites," the study found.
In 2010, blacks in Minnesota were arrested for cannabis possession at 7.8 times the rate of whites. Both African Americans and Caucasians consume cannabis at approximately similar rates.
A variety of factors contribute to the disparity in arrest rates, the study found. These include "over-policing in communities of color, cultural differences in where or how marijuana is used and purchased, and [the prevalence] of grants and seizure policies that incentivize volume over quality in drug arrests," the think-tank acknowledged in a press release.
The report estimated that the collateral costs of a low-level marijuana arrest may total as much as $76,000 over the course of a decade, including attorney fees, fines, costs associated with attending mandatory drug treatment, lost income and job prospects, and barriers to public assistance and federal aid.
For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500 or visit Minnesota NORML at: http://www.mnnorml.org/. Full text of the study, entitled "Collateral Costs: Racial Disparities and Injustice in Minnesota's Marijuana Laws," is available at: http://mn2020.org/assets/uploads/article/collateral_costs_web.pdf.