Pot-related arrests of Black youth jump 58%; arrests of Hispanic kids rise 29%
May 20, 2016
Contact: Jeffrey Zinsmeister
[WASHINGTON, DC] - A recent report from the Colorado Department of Public Safety reveals that marijuana-related arrests of Black and Hispanic youth increased sharply in the two years following legalization, belying claims by legalization advocates that such policies would promote racial justice.
Overall arrests of minors for marijuana jumped 5 percent from 2012 to 2014. Unfortunately, youth of color shouldered the entire burden of this increase.
While arrests of underage Whites dropped 8 percent in this timeframe, arrests of Hispanics rose 29 percent, and arrests of Black youth shot up 58 percent.
"The data is in, and it shows that once again legalization advocates are only paying lip service to racial justice questions to advance the agenda of the marijuana industry," said Dr. Kevin Sabet, President of SAM. "They sold legalization to the voters as a solution to racial injustice, but more youth of color are now being arrested for pot, not fewer."
Jo McGuire, co-chair of SAM's Colorado affiliate and president & CEO of 5 Minutes of Courage, a Colorado advocacy group for drug-free communities, workplaces, and youth, said, "It's time for Colorado leadership to recognize that the promise of tax revenue is not worth the cost to our most vulnerable communities. Our top priority should be public health and safety, not addiction for profit."
William Jones III, leader of Two Is Enough - DC, a movement of diverse Washington, DC, residents concerned about the scourge of a third legal recreational drug, added, "This information comes just months after a Denver Post exposé revealing how pot businesses have concentrated themselves in low-income communities of color. At the end of the day, the pot industry just wants to make money. And if the history of the tobacco industry teaches us anything, they will focus on the disadvantaged and underprivileged to boost their bottom line."
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Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) is a nonpartisan, non-profit alliance of physicians, policy makers, prevention workers, treatment and recovery professionals, scientists, and other concerned citizens opposed to marijuana legalization who want health and scientific evidence to guide marijuana policies. SAM has affiliates in 31 states.
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