A new study has found that African Americans in Buffalo, New York are disproportionately arrested for low-level cannabis possession offences.
The research by advocacy group Partnership for the Public Good adds to the breadth of recent studies identifying racial disparities in cannabis possession arrests.
In this most recent study, researchers analyzed cannabis arrest data for Erie County, New York for the years 2012 to 2016. Across the county, African Americans made up 71 percent of all low-level cannabis offenders, despite making up only 13.5 percent of the population.
Within the city of Buffalo, 86 percent of those arrested for minor cannabis possession were either African American (80 percent) or Hispanic (six percent.) These two demographics represent fewer than 50 percent of the city’s population.
“[T]he disparities in the number of marijuana possession arrests cannot be explained by a higher use among black or Hispanic people,” say the study’s authors.
“Legalizing marijuana would reduce low-level drug arrests by ten percent, and help reduce racial disparities in overall arrest numbers.”
Recent analyses conducted in other states – including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia – have come up with similar results to the Buffalo study.
Across the U.S., black Americans are roughly four times more likely than white Americans to be arrested for cannabis possession, even though members of both ethnicities use cannabis at similar rates.
h/t NORML Blog