The Racial Politics of Pot Arrests


Cord Jefferson, writing for BET News, says that the racial disparity in marijuana busts paints a clear picture of two different Americas: one for whites and one for others.

Despite the fact that whites smoke marijuana more often than Blacks and Latinos, when it comes to arrests for the drug, Blacks and Latinos are nabbed far more frequently than their white counterparts …

If you think this is no big deal, and that this is simply Blacks getting rightly punished for bad behavior, you should consider that it's wrong for Blacks to be profiled for pot possession despite the fact that they statistically use marijuana less. You should also think about how a simple pot bust can injure a life. Once a person is arrested for marijuana, they're in the system, which can have a detrimental effect on them forever. Speaking to the New York Times in June about the NYPD's controversial "stop and frisk" policies, through which a lot of the city's pot arrests come, the New York Civil Liberties Union's Donna Lieberman noted that a minor pot bust isn't minor for many Black and Latino kids.

"For individuals who have any kind of a record, even a minuscule one, the obstacles are enormous to employment and to education," she said. "When it's really a huge number of kids in the community who go through this, and all have the same story, the impact is just devastating."


Read Cord Jefferson's entire piece at BET News.

The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.


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