Puff, Puff, Pass: Racial Disparity in Marijuana Usage Arrests in NYC

A New York Times columnist raises the issue of pot and privilege in New York City.

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The phrase "Puff, puff, pass" has a new meaning in New York City. Under the leadership of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, arrests for displaying or burning marijuana have increased exponentially, except in his area of town. According to the article, New York City arrests more of its citizens for using pot than any other city in the world. To add insult to injury, nearly nine out of 10 people charged with violating the law are black or Latino, although national surveys have shown that whites are the heaviest users of pot. Even Mayor Bloomberg has admitted to enjoying the sticky icky.  On the Upper East Side of Manhattan, where the mayor lives, an average of 20 people for every 100,000 residents were arrested on the lowest-level misdemeanor pot charge in 2007, 2008 and 2009. During those same years, the marijuana arrest rate in Brownsville, Brooklyn, was 3,109 for every 100,000 residents. That means the chances of getting arrested on pot charges in Brownsville -- and nothing else -- were 150 times greater than on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. We're not mathematicians or statisticians, but in our best Martin Lawrence voice, "Something ain't right."

Read more at The New York Times.

-- Nsenga K. Burton

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