Marijuana is a leading driver of race-based police brutality in America, according to a new video released online this week from a group helping to legalize cannabis in California.
Hot off the heels of their incendiary Jay-Z video on mass incarceration, the Drug Policy Alliance has released “It’s Not Legal Yet: Why We Must Legalize Marijuana in California,” highlighting the disproportionate enforcement of marijuana laws against Blacks and Latinos.
Even though California decriminalized personal marijuana possession in 2010, Black and Latinos continue to get pot tickets at far higher rates than whites in California. They’re also overrepresented among California’s 25,000 or so annual arrests for things like selling pot or growing it. California had nearly 500,000 arrests for marijuana from 2006 to 2015.
The DPA notes:
Black people were nearly five times more likely than white people to be arrested for marijuana felonies. Latinos are 35 percent more likely than white people to be arrested for a marijuana offense: 45 percent more likely for a misdemeanor and 26 percent more likely for a felony. Further, marijuana infraction enforcement in Los Angeles and Fresno was nearly four times more severe for Black Californians and 1.5 times more severe for Latino Californians than whites.
“With gripping images and narration, this short film raises up the critical racial and social injustice issues at stake under marijuana legalization in California,” stated Lynne Lyman, California state director for Drug Policy Action. “It upholds Brave New Films’ tradition of making hard-hitting films on the most pressing issues in our communities.”