Hazy Justice: Marijuana Arrests And Black Victims
Do you think White communities would allow ethnic minority outsiders to come into their towns and spend $75 million to criminalize their kids for smoking marijuana?
[Speaking Truth To Power]
In 1977, New York supposedly “decriminalized” marijuana
possession in small amounts.
So, why did New York City spend $75 million last year to
arrest people, primarily African-Americans and Latinos,
for simple pot possession?
A recent report, written by Dr. Harry Levin and Loren Siegel
J.D.—for the Marijuana Research Project—and released by the
Drug Policy Alliance, estimated that the New York Police
Department (NYPD) made around 50,300 misdemeanor arrests
for marijuana, in 2010, costing New York taxpayers $75.4
Not surprisingly, the primary targets for these arrests
were ethnic minorities.
The report illustrates that, although, young Whites use
marijuana at higher rates: “nearly 87% of those arrested
re people of color.”
Here are some key findings in the report. (1) “In 2010,
New York City spent $75 million arresting and jailing mostly
young people simply for possessing small amounts of marijuana.”
(2) “From 1997 through 2010 the NYPD made 536,000 arrests
for marijuana possession. This has cost taxpayers $500
million to over $1 billion.
(3) “Marijuana possession arrests also have serious human
costs and consequences. They create permanent criminal
records that can be easily found on the Internet by employers,
landlords, schools, credit agencies, licensing boards, and
(4) “Government health surveys find that young whites use
marijuana at higher rates than young Blacks and Latinos.
But the NYPD arrests Blacks for marijuana possession at
seven times the rate of Whites, and, Latinos at nearly four
times the rate of whites.” (5) “In 2010, one out of every seven
arrests for offenses in New York City, and one out of five of
all misdemeanor arrests, was a lowest-level marijuana possession
Since Bloomberg became Mayor in 2002, the NYPD has made 350,000
of these arrests, more than under Mayors Koch, Dinkins and
This last statistic is truly ironic of the hypocrisy of
Mayor Mike Bloomberg.
Because, Mayor Bloomberg was once asked if he had ever smoked
marijuana, to which he replied “you bet I did. And I enjoyed it.”
But, apparently, rich Whites, like Mr. Bloomberg, have no
qualms criminalizing ethnic minorities for “offenses” they
themselves have “enjoyed” committing. Make no mistake about it;
that is exactly what is happening here.
According to New York Penal Code 221.10: “A person is
guilty of criminal possession of marihuana in the fifth degree
when he knowingly and unlawfully possesses: 1. marihuana in a
public place, as defined in section 240.00 of this chapter, and
such marihuana is burning or open to public view; or 2. one
or more preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances
containing marihuana and the preparations, compounds,
mixtures or substances are of an aggregate weight of more than
In layman’s terms, this means if you possess twenty-five grams
or less and have it concealed—similar to the open container
beer law—that this is legal.
Even if you are caught it should be no more that a ticket,
since it’s a misdemeanor. But the rules are always applied
differently for Black folks, aren’t they? How else do you
explain the disparity between the sentences given to the
White users of powder cocaine and Black users of crack
in the recent past? The sad fact is the crack cocaine disparity
has led to the imprisonment of legions of minorities.
Don’t forget half of the two million prisoners, in America are
Black, although Blacks represent a mere 12 percent of the
Unfortunately, the White criminal justice policy makers
practice a “separate and unequal” application of the law.
There’s one law for Whites, another for those “other” people.
Consequently, New York City is now known as the marijuana arrest
capitol of the world.
Dr. Amos N. Wilson, in his book “Black on Black Violence,”
noted that the White criminal justice system makes sure
“the African male is not only readily suspected of committing
crimes, but is actively provoked and seduced into
criminality by his White American accusers and persecutors.”
That insightful fact can be seen in the disproportionate
targeting and arrests of African-Americans and Latinos—
instead of Whites who smoke more marijuana.
It is also seen in the racist stop-and-frisk policy of the
NYPD. In 2010, the NYPD made 601,055 stops. African-Americans
and Latinos accounted for over 85 percent of those stopped.
But none of this should surprise us, for, as Dr. Wilson
warned us “It is White America which defines criminality
and writes the criminal justice codes. It writes these codes
not in the interest of justice as defined by its own moral
code, but in the interest of maintaining, justifying and
enforcing its continual dominance of the African-American
The answer to this problem is: we must remove White
decision makers from setting the law enforcement agenda
in majority minority neighborhoods. How? We must
force African-American and Latino politicians to push
for decentralization of the police in minority neighborhoods.
Those who refuse must be voted out of office.
Black communities need police chiefs and sheriffs directly
ccountable to them.
Why shouldn’t minority communities have their own police
departments run by their own police chiefs, sheriffs and
commissioners? Do you think White communities would allow
ethnic minority outsiders to come into their towns and spend 75
million to criminalize their kids for smoking marijuana?
"Speaking Truth To Empower."
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