The drug war is racist

Racial Bias in Marijuana Arrests is Worse Than You Thought

In six states, plus the District of Columbia, blacks are over five times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites are. The national average? Black Americans are arrested nearly four times as much. And it’s not because of increased use of the drug: according to the New York Times’s report, black and white Americans have about the same rates of marijuana use overall. So what’s going on?

Essentially, the Times explains, it’s probably one of a handful of biases written into the system of local law enforcement nationwide. The data they’re using is from 2010, and was also used by the ACLU for a new report. The ACLU cites the Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program as one possible reason for the disparity. That’s because, they explain, the program incentivizes increasing drug arrest numbers by tying the statistics to funding. Law enforcement officials then concentrate on lower income neighborhoods to keep those numbers up, finding the lowest hanging fruit of crimes to enforce.

Good to see this getting some play in the media. People should be outraged by this.

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41 Responses to The drug war is racist

  1. Pingback: Conspiracy Theories! | The drug war is racist – Drug WarRant

  2. primus says:

    So the most bigoted state in the union is Iowa? IOW the ‘cracker states’ are overtly bigoted, but the non-cracker states are where the REAL bigots live, only covertly.

  3. Servetus says:

    The race issue appears in the distinct attitudes shown to gun-victim Trayvon Martin, and marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

    Both were pot smokers, but the attitude toward Martin’s connection to weed, a black adolescent, was used by his killer’s lawyers to try to smear Trayvon. Dzhokhar’s smoking and subsequent criminal act, because he’s caucasion, is treated as if he did something out-of-the-ordinary. He was seen by his friends as just another laid-back marijuana smoker. Maia Szalavitz has the full discussion concerning marijuana’s changing image here:

    • divadab says:

      Not for lack of trying by the drug warriors to somehow make marijuana responsible for Tsarnaev’s crimes. Or, at a minimum, smear him as a disreputable drug addict.

      The drug war may have originally been designed to keep the brown people down, and still largely functions to do this, but it’s taken on a life of its own.

      The solution to the oppression of brown people in America is not to equitably extend the oppression to everyone!

  4. claygooding says:

    It has backed the Baptists off of marijuana,,now they write about prescription drug abuse,,mostly from their parent’s medicine cabinet. Too many deaths caused by overdoses on PD’s stolen from the home are cropping up.
    And I have been calling LE and judges out about the racial application of the drug laws now for awhile,,,we must have a lot of bigots or yellow bellied cocksuckers for judges for them to allow this to go on so long.

    • One/cocksucker/less says:

      A 911 call from the day a downstate Illinois judge died of a cocaine overdose shows his friend and fellow judge struggling to revive him and then breaking down, telling the dispatcher, “I love him. Like a brother.”

      Less than half an hour later, St. Clair County Judge Joe Christ, 49, was pronounced dead at a hunting lodge where he and Judge Mike Cook had been spending a weekend in March. An autopsy found he died of cocaine intoxication and cardiac arrest.

      Cook resigned from the bench last month after he was charged with possession of heroin. A St. Clair County probation officer has been charged with selling drugs to both judges, and authorities say their investigation is continuing.


      • allan says:

        from other stories:

        – “A St. Clair County probation office employee sold the fatal dose of cocaine that killed St. Clair County Associate Judge Joseph D. Christ”


        – “Accusations that multiple St. Clair county court officials bought and used drugs have prompted a federal investigation, and based on the latest accounts, there is a lot to investigate.”

        it makes one wonder what other officials in St Clair Co. will be exposed as “druggies.” I also wonder how many cases Cook and Christ presided over that involved drugs? Oh look… here’s one:

        – Cook was arrested Wednesday evening at the Belleville home of Sean D. McGilvery who also has been rounded up and charged in the unfolding scandal.

        McGilvery is accused of possessing and distributing large quantities of heroin – exceeding one kilogram — in an operation where resources were pooled and drugs were run from Chicago. In one instance last December, McGilvery allegedly made a $50,000 heroin purchase.


        Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) task force officer Neal Rohlfing stated in an affidavit that McGilvery conspired with Deborah A. Perkins, 65, and Douglas W. Oliver II, 47, a mother-son duo from Fairview Heights, to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute in excess of one kilogram of heroin.

        Perkins and Oliver were charged in September with concealment of the homicidal death of Jessica M. Williams of Collinsville. Cook did not initially preside over their cases but did so months later, court records show.

        They’ve kept this pretty quiet since March… but it ain’t quiet no mo’. Gosh… and it happened in Illinois no less…

        • Jean Valjean says:

          I wonder where these two stood on drug reform and, for that matter, gay rights?

        • Jeff Trigg says:

          Illinois sucks. Especially Barack Obama, the Democrats, and Lisa Madigan with her father. 2nd highest tax burden on the poor in the nation. Worst debt burden in the nation. Chicago cops guilty of torturing suspects and illegally spying on human beings simply because of their opinions on foreign policy.

          IRS targeting the tea party? That is the Chicago way, use government to ruin anyone who won’t kiss the evil, violent, power-hungry Democrats’ rings. Impeach Obama? Nah, it’d be more fun to see a Madigan swinging.

  5. kaptinemo says:

    Like I said elsewhere, it sucks to be on the bleeding edge of creating sane social policy. Because more often than not, you’re being way ahead of everyone else has a cost.

    How long? How long have we reformers been saying the DrugWar has been racist from the get-go? That it was fundamentally racist at its’ pustulant, corrupt core? That it was intended to be?

    That particularly disgusting coffee’s been brewing for decades, the stench has entered every part of our culture, and they’re only just now smelling it?

    I swear, sometimes I feel like a time-traveler from the future when I write about this aspect of the DrugWar. What’s the old line from the Bible about prophets in their own country are seldom honored?

    You don’t have to be a prophet, you just have to have three brain cells to click together, enough to do the research and see right off the bat that the DrugWar was never about health concerns but about maintaining an ancient prejudice (‘old wine’) by dressing it up in modern clothes (‘new wineskins’)…and maintaining the power structure that prejudice supported and benefited from.

    But because of the ‘messenger’ (Eewwwww, drug law reformers, and therefore, druggies) the message was discarded…as was the warning about the slippery slope our liberties have slid down towards a very foul place, indeed.

    Being right at the ‘wrong’ time is always a royal pain…

    • Windy says:

      “Every society honors its live conformists and its dead troublemakers.” — Mignon McLaughlin

      “You need only reflect that one of the best ways to get yourself a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating the very phrases which our founding fathers used in the struggle for independence.” — Charles Austin Beard, historian

      “It’s dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.” -?

      “Truth is treason in the empire of lies.” ― Ron Paul

      • Jeff Trigg says:

        “It’s dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.” – Yup, I’ll testify to this. See Lee v. Keith. Obama and his Madigan Illinois Democrats didn’t take kindly to that verdict AT ALL. Prove they are wrong, in court, and Democrats will use just about any means available to punish you. EVERYONE who votes Democrat is evil or totally ignorant.

        • claygooding says:

          That sure spells doom for us,,Republicans are fucked in the head and Libertarians are not confrontational enough while the green party is too stoned to vote.

        • Jeff Trigg says:

          Can’t blame the Greens and Libertarians for the mess the majority R and D voters give us every year like sheep. Rich Whitney, Green, did get 10.5% for Illinois Governor in 2006 versus the known Democrat crook Rod Blagojevich, so there is a bit of hope. Republicans are fucked in the head, but a few do believe in individual rights and freedoms, unlike any Democrats I’m aware of. We are doomed, however, in my opinion. The debt and deficit math does not lie, and its too late to turn the ship around before it sinks, but one can hope.

        • claygooding says:

          I have a compass and a quarter pound stashed in the front port side lifeboat. Bring something to drink

        • nonpartisan says:

          “Republicans are morality enforcers and Libertarians are conspiracy nutcases while the green party is left-totalitarian.”

        • Windy says:

          You call yourself nonpartisan and yet you vilify libertarians as “conspiracy nutcases”, I call that VERY partisan, since you obviously hate libertarians of which you, also obviously, know absolutely nothing.
          The only major political group you ignored in your post (Democrats) are pro-choice, except for:

          choosing what to put in one’s body
          choosing what light bulbs to use in one’s home
          choosing whether or not to be in a union
          choosing which school is best for your children
          choosing what word to use (I hate Political Correctness)
          choosing to discriminate in what kind of people you will allow to rent your house/apt or patronize your business
          and more, much, much more.

          By contrast, Republicans
          believe in freedom, except:
          the freedom to marry whomever you love
          the freedom to do what you want with or to your own body
          the freedom from being ruled by some religion or another
          the freedom to oppose wars, the military, and the police state
          and more, much, much more

          However, the libertarians you vilified actually believe in freedom AND are pro-choice in everything except violations of anyone else’s unalienable rights.

    • I agree with you kaptin. People forget easy what they really don’t want to know.

      CIA Agent Says War Is Eugenics & Drug War Is Fake

    • Sean says:

      ” . . . the stench has entered every part of our culture, and they’re only just now smelling it?. . .”

      Of course not. They’ve sucked it up through their nostrils with zeal and relish since the beginning. What you call STENCH is much the same stink as “napalm smelling like victory in the morning” (a line from the film “Apocalypse Now”).

      The introduction of the Drug Demonization has all the same characteristics of a Witch Craze, because it is one. And for all the same reasons. Power and control. And the more vicious, blatant, and crazy, the better. Madness cultivated and released into a group of humans serves certain interests. Just as war does, and discrimination – a group of humans infected with fear and hatred, can be led to any behaviour.

      No mistakes are being made.

      P.S. – A very great book : “We” – Zamiatin. A great book.

  6. primus says:

    Don’t you get it? It’s not the Democrats, Republicans, Liberals, Conservatives, New Democrats, Labour, Green or any other party by itself. It is the parties in general. They are all corrupt, they all ignore their founding principles on the altar of power, they all punish their ‘enemies’. The people who mindlessly vote for a party are lazy and don’t want to have to think for themselves because it is easier to just vote the party line and vilify anyone who does not do likewise. Lazy voters and malleable parties is the problem. There is no visible solution.

  7. Jeff Trigg says:

    908 out of 945 counties where the minorities arrested for cannabis outnumbered the whites arrested in the ACLU study. Shocking, even without the entire context. How many counties are there in the US? If the NAACP weren’t in bed with the plantation owner Democrats, they should be all over these facts with the appropriate protests. Jesse Jackson doesn’t care as long as his sons keep on raking in the dough from their government protected alcohol distribution racket in Illinois.

    • Windy says:

      The answer to your question about how many counties in the US: “a total of 3,143 counties and county-equivalents (parishes and boroughs).

  8. claygooding says:

    What we need is a whistleblower to rat out on Bohnner bumming marijuana from the DEA to keep his new son-in-law quiet.

  9. mr Ikasheeni says:

    Should Rand Paul recent public stance inspire confidence of the smoking public?

    • claygooding says:

      i think we will see any candidate that wants to win in a tight race pull out the marijuana card this next election of legislators,,Rand Paul wants to be the changer in the Rep party,,he wants to be the one that brings the young vote back,,,you know they realize what a large voting block we are and they know where to get the votes,,lip service will only get them elected once.

  10. Human/Rights/Watch says:

    National drug control policies that impose criminal penalties for personal drug use undermine basic human rights, Human Rights Watch said today. To deter harmful drug use, governments should rely instead on non-penal regulatory and public health policies. The 43rd General Assembly of the Organization of American States, taking place in Antigua, Guatemala from June 4 to 6, 2013, will focus on drug control policy in the Americas.

    Governments should also take steps to reduce the human rights costs of current drug production and distribution policies, Human Rights Watch said. Among the steps should be reforming law enforcement practices and exploring alternatives for legal regulation that would reduce the power of violent criminal groups.


  11. mr Ikasheeni says:

    But TN just is oversimplifying just 1 party while state legislatures go hog-wild with all sorts of big g’mint conservatism debilitating to the cannabis public. Actions should seem louder than lip service.

  12. DonDig says:

    Our justice system has apparently found some reason to put Marc Emery in solitary confinement.
    I wonder what justified that as he approaches the end of his prison term for selling seeds.

    • claygooding says:

      any bets he tested positive on a random?

    • allan says:

      it’ll be interesting to hear what Mark has to say when he gets out from behind bars…

    • darkcycle says:

      I get Jodie’s FaceBook feed. She mentioned that the report she got said that all of the members of Mark’s prison band were stuck in the “hole” at the same time….

      • B. Snow says:

        Obviously – they found some way/manner to entertain themselves, so that had to be eliminated post-haste, immediately, yesterday if possible…

        Still not miserable? Well then, into solitary confinement it is!

  13. Inner Circle/Voices/Whispers says:

    We’re with you, Marc.
    We are Still Waters.
    Pompous Pimping Boors Yodelling Cannot Disturb Us.
    Rest, Brother.

  14. Servetus says:

    The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) is meeting with lawmakers this week:

    …with more than 30 members headed to Capitol Hill on Wednesday and Thursday.
    The pitch they plan to make to lawmakers is mundane — less federal meddling and more tax breaks, please — and that’s by design…

    The NCIA will be bringing in members from 10 states for the lobby visit, including business owners and lawyers. Many of them will be present at a press conference with members of Congress — a time-honored trade group tactic — where the group will push for allowing licensed marijuana companies to take business deductions from their federal taxes.

    “Fundamentally, these businesses are licensed, regulated and are operating like every other small business in America, but the federal government is treating them like criminals,” said Betty Aldworth, the NCIA’s deputy director.

    We’ve come a long way from the time a kilo-brick of Mexican ditch weed could get someone sentenced to life on the rack without parole. Now, the weed sends lobbyists to Washington, D.C., where they chat and rub elbows with the real crooks.

    • claygooding says:

      I just hope DC doesn’t corrupt the NCIA,and any other social diseases congress must pass around.

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