Cannabis Decriminalisation Reduces Racial Disparity In Arrests


Racial minorities have historically been disproportionately targeted by unfair and unequal drug laws. While logic tells us that cannabis decriminalisation would help eliminate this injustice, hard data to support this argument has been lacking until now. However, a new study in the journal Social Science and Medicine has now provided empirical evidence that the removal of criminal penalties for cannabis possession really does precipitate a reduction in racial disparities when it comes to arrests[i]. Related Post Why Cannabis Reform Must Prioritise Racial Justice Cannabis Decriminalisation Levels The Field The new study uses data from the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Program to calculate the number of Black and White people arrested for cannabis possession in 37 US states between 2000 and 2019. During this period, 11 of the states included in the study passed laws that brought about the decriminalisation of cannabis, resulting in dramatic shifts in the racial balance. Overall, “cannabis decriminalisation was associated with a roughly 17% decrease in racial disparity in arrest rates between Blacks and Whites,” write the study authors. Naturally, the total number of arrests also dropped considerably in states that chose to remove criminal penalties for possessing weed, with a 70 percent decrease in apprehensions recorded. Exactly how the decriminalisation of cannabis brings about such an improvement in racial disparities is not yet clear, although the researchers propose two possible mechanisms. Firstly, they speculate that law enforcement behaviours may not have changed after cannabis decriminalisation, and those police officers may have continued to disproportionately stop and search racial minorities. However, decriminalisation would have prevented these individuals from actually being arrested if found to be in possession of cannabis. Alternatively, they propose that people from these communities may have deliberately responded to the new laws by ensuring they always carried quantities of weed within the permissible…

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Source : Cannabis Decriminalisation Reduces Racial Disparity In Arrests

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