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The LAPD Cites Black People 4 Times As Often As White People For Marijuana Possession

Pineapple kush from a medical marijuana dispensary (Photo by drunkonlove via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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If you're black, occasionally indulge by smoking weed, and live in the city of Los Angeles, you are precisely four times more likely than your white neighbor to be cited for marijuana possession, according to a new report. The Drug Policy Alliance analyzed marijuana citation data from both the Los Angeles and Fresno Police Departments to extrapolate these results.

The report bluntly concludes that racial disparities in marijuana enforcement still exist. Though weed has been increasingly decriminalized in California since the '70s, and getting caught with a gram today is legally an infraction akin to, say, doing 75 mph in a 65 zone, black people are still disproportionately cited and fined for minor marijuana crimes.

As the Drug Policy Alliance underscored in a statement, "approximately 1 in 532 black people are cited for a marijuana possession infraction as compared to 1 in 1,351 Latinos and 1 in 1,923 white people," in the city of Los Angeles.

Crucially, the DPA finds these variations are due to enforcement alone. Marijuana use across race lines is shockingly similar, even according to statistics compiled by the federal government.

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"It's likely that young black and Latino Californians experience these disparities statewide," said Margaret Dooley-Sammuli, criminal justice and drug policy director for the ACLU of California, to LA Weekly. "A $100 citation can easily become several times that, after all the fees are added. This presents a significant burden for young people and low-income families."

Legalizing weed at the state level will be on the ballot this November. The Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) proposes that marijuana be legalized for recreational use in California for those ages 21 and older. If passed, AUMA would eliminate marijuana violations enforced by city, county, and state law enforcement agencies.