New marijuana arrest report highlights need for Amendment 64

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New marijuana arrest report highlights need for Amendment 64

A national research organization released a study today that found 210,000 Coloradans have been arrested just for marijuana possession in the past 25 years. The report also provides the first-ever racial breakdown of arrests that includes Latinos, showing that both they and African-Americans are being arrested at significantly greater rates than whites despite having much lower rates of use.

Colorado NAACP and ACLU leaders joined proponents of Amendment 64 at a news conference to address the report. See their take on it after the jump.

The Huffington Post reports:

Rosemary Harris Lytle, president of the local NAACP conference in support of Amendment 64 saying, "Marijuana prohibition is taking a toll on all Coloradans, and it is our communities of color that are paying the biggest price."

Lytle added: "Law enforcement resources should be used to address violent and otherwise harmful crimes. They should not be directed toward the enforcement of irrational marijuana laws that disproportionately impact African-Americans and other people of color. It is time for a more sensible approach."

Denise Maes, director of public policy for the ACLU of Colorado, also attended the conference and in a statement said, "Discrimination against Latinos has gone hand in hand with marijuana prohibition since its establishment. Our marijuana prohibition laws are doing far more harm than good, and that could not be more evident than in our Latino community. They are being disproportionately enforced against Latinos, and they are steering profits from marijuana sales toward cartels and gangs instead of legitimate Colorado businesses."

Among the key findings of the report:

  • Marijuana possession arrests in Colorado rose sharply over the past 25 years, from 4,000 in 1986 to 10,500 in 2010, totaling 210,000 arrests.
  • Police made 108,000 marijuana possession arrests in just the last ten years.
  • In the last decade, Colorado arrested Latinos for marijuana possession at 1.5 times the rate of whites, and arrested blacks at 3.1 times the rate of whites. Yet blacks and Latinos use marijuana at lower rates than young whites.
  • Latinos are 19% of the Colorado's residents, but they are 25% of the people arrested for marijuana possession. This is the first study to show arrests of Latinos in Colorado.
  • African Americans and Latinos are less than a quarter (23%) of Colorado's residents, they made up more than a third (35%) of the people arrested for marijuana possession.