91% of D.C. Pot Charges Are Filed Against Black People, Only Six Percent Are Filed Against Whites

Mr. T in DC / photo on flickrMr. T in DC / photo on flickrA few months back I argued that marijuana users in Washington, D.C. are more concerned with the proper etiquette for getting baked than they are with being victims of, or--dare I say it?--accomplices in, the war on drugs. At the time, I argued that even when powerful D.C. denizens were busted for pot offenses, the experience entailed more bark than bite.

What I failed to note in that post is that D.C. police don't extend the courtesy of a blind eye to everyone. Washington City Paper's Rend Smith reports that  

In 2007, a black person was eight times more likely to be arrested for a District marijuana offense than a white person, even though researchers have exposed what any college pot dealer can tell you from the comfort of his Barcalounger: Members of both racial groups consume cannabis at nearly equal rates.

D.C.'s dope divide is just as striking when you zoom out. According to arrest numbers obtained from the Metropolitan Police Department and crunched by a statistician, between 2005 and 2011, D.C. cops filed 30,126 marijuana offense charges. A staggering number of those—27,560, or 91 percent—were filed against African-Americans. Only 2,097 were filed against whites.

Blame-the-victim folklore contends that pot-arrest asymmetries, which show up in various cities around the country, are about blacks smoking outside and getting their pot on street corners. Recent studies contradict that. And if D.C.'s shameful pot disparity was about anything but racial bias, we'd see it narrowing.

Instead, though the number of black and white pot charges filed fluctuated from year to year, reefer charges filed against blacks rose 6 percent and declined 10 percent for whites between 2005 and 2011.

In other D.C. marijuana news, Capital City Care today became the first licensed medical marijuana dispensary in Washington, D.C.

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  • Acosmist||

    I feel like the explanation would get you Watson'd.

  • John||

    If they ever started arresting respectable white people for drug offenses at the rate they do poor whites and black people, our problems with the drug war would end very quickly.

    Don't tell me for a moment the hipsters on Capitol Hill and Eastern Market don't smoke pot or the degenerates on K-Street are not snorting coke. If you are cop and you want a few drug busts to pad the stats, profile hipsters. Assume the position beardo. This is a stop and frisk.

  • Question of Auban||

    Pot should be decriminalized everywhere, so in no way am I defending these arrests .... but, and correct me if I am wrong, is that not pretty close to the demographics in DC anyway? I am not talking about commuters or thieves who claim to "represent" other states but the DC residents themselves?

  • Question of Auban||

    OK, it is not as overwhelmingly black as I thought, but it IS majority black.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D.....gton,_D.C.

  • ||

    What would be more interesting is if a large number of the 91% of black arrests are happening in the West side of DC, which according to your map is predominantly populated by whites, or if the white arrests take place on the north and east sides of the city that seems to be predominantly black.

    Either of those circumstances would seem to indicate that they are targeting blacks more than whites.

  • albo||

    Maybe the police are responding to more crimes in areas that are predominantly black, and they get the nug in a patdown.

  • John||

    It is that blacks have more interactions with cops than whites. If you are a casual pot user, the DEA is not exactly going to target you. The way you will get caught is getting pulled over for speeding or an expired tag and having them find it in your car or getting into it with your girlfriend and having her call the cops or something like that.

  • albo||

    I'm amazed at how many idiots get caught for major crimes like a truckload full of coke just because they drove 80 mph or didn't check to see if all their car's lights worked.

  • John||

    If they were smart, they wouldn't have to smuggle drugs for a living.

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    Or at the very least, wouldn't be in the business very long. The black market might be a good way to raise some quick capital, but not the best of career choices.

  • Rod Flash||

    Of course, they couldn't be cops then either. Not leaving a lot of job possibilities for black people in DC.

  • Lord at War||

    John-

    If they were smart, they wouldn't have to smuggle drugs for a living.

    I haven't had to work since 1994. You still suck Washington dick for a living.

    Who's "smart"?

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Yeah, but there's an equal number of stories about people getting pulled over because the cops found it suspicious that they were obeying the speed limit.

  • itsnotmeitsyou||

    I know when I'm transporting 50 kilos of uncut columbian cocaine, I make sure to follow the flow of traffic or about 5 over. (joke! I've never transported more than 30 kilos)

  • Sidd Finch||

    Yeah, but there's an equal number of stories about people getting pulled over because the cops found it suspicious that they were obeying the speed limit.

    There's equal numbers of people pulled over for speeding as for driving the speed limit?

  • 1stworlder||

    blacks are only 13% of the US population but they commit over 1/2 of all murders a crime that is hard to hide/fake. When a FOIA was filed against NYC it showed that blacks and Hispanics commited 98% of all known gun crime.
    http://www.thegatewaypundit.co.....o-obvious/

  • dd09999||

    First thing I thought of was demographics. If I can pick that up, the writer should have mentioned it at least.

  • DRM||

    Actually, it [i]was[/i] majority black in 2010 (the graphic on the right in Wikipedia), but it slipped below 50% in 2011 (mentioned in the text).

    So, while non-blacks are a majority of the DC population, blacks are a whole 91% of the pot arrests.

  • John||

    It is majority but it is not 91%. And DC has a ton of college students. I find it difficult to believe even a majority of actual pot users in DC are black much less 91%.

  • 1stworlder||

    If you are smoking pot in your house with some friends you are not going to get arrested. If you are trying to get a 13yo white girl high to have sex with her you might have a problem.

  • Mike Riggs||

    smh

  • Aresen||

    Won't someone please think of the white children?

  • Paul.||

    They are... they are.

  • 1stworlder||

    the white little girls being offered drugs so non-Asian minorities can rape them

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    How dare reason smoke the race card.

  • Question of Auban||

    Race qua race, I would agree - however, and here is one area where I disagree with conservatives, if one sees race disparity it could illuminate disparities in other areas such as closeness to the reigns of political power.

  • Question of Auban||

    To put it another way, look at how many rock / rap / pop stars get away with using drugs if they "seek treatment in a clinic" wink wink. How many people without money or political connections could get away with that?

    **cough cough Rush Limbaugh ** Cough cough**

  • John||

    There are tons of people who get away with addiction and just end up in rehab. If you never get arrested, you won't go to jail. It is not like the rehab centers are going to turn you in. And the vast majority of people who use drugs never get arrested.

  • 1stworlder||

    Tell me where this hospital is that would turn you away if you had the access card paid for by taxpayers? Free taxpayer paid detoxing might not be as pleasant as weaning off drugs but it will get you clean.

  • Tim||

    I see a atraight line thru history from slavery thru segregation to the the War on Drugs. Maybe it's a less vicious agenda at each step but it's still keeping large numbers of blacks in chains while discrediting the rest.

  • 1stworlder||

    I see not a single black nation where more than 1% of the natives live better than those on welfare in the US. If blacks are more successful in white nations than anywhere else.

  • albo||

    You can buy "medical" marijuana in DC now but you have to do a long and expensive tap dance just to exercise your Second Amendment rights?

  • db||

    D.C. residents lack access to basic human rights.

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    D.C. foreign residents are the reason for that.

  • dd09999||

    What is the % of whites and blacks in the city?

  • itsnotmeitsyou||

    This is completely anecdotal and I am not discounting the idea that cops target black people, but I have to say that there is something to be said for discretion. When I lived in DC, I knew many many potheads, black and white.

    Not once have I seen any of my white friends advertising on FB or walking around in public while smoking it. Can't say the same for my black friends. Not surprisingly, none of my white friends have ever been busted for pot, a few of my black friends have.

  • Sidd Finch||

    As Rend Smith makes clear, you're blaming the victim if you believe your lying eyes over gated articles by criminologists at commuter colleges.

  • itsnotmeitsyou||

    Well, in at least one case, I directly "blame the victim". One of my friends posted, publicly, on FB something on the order of "OOOOH SHIT YEAH! I just got QP for $X. hit me up if you want some" along with a picture of said QP.

    He seemed awful surprised when an undercover cop busted him for dealing outside of his apt. Gee, how'd they know?

  • Sidd Finch||

    Last year, some young black guy asked for a ride home while I was pumping gas. He had a bit of a sob story so I obliged. It turned out he had suspended license because he got busted with pot after deciding to smoke a blunt while watching the cops do something down the block.

  • DaveSs||

    Hypothesis:

    Black MJ users in DC are more likely to be arrested than white marijuana users in DC because black users are more likely to engage in other illicit behavior than their white MJ using counterparts.

    Basically, they weren't arrested for MJ possession, they were arrested for something else and MJ possession was tacked onto the charges.

  • Paul.||

    What, stealing from 360,000,000 people from a cushy office in DC is less illicit than joyriding?

  • Sevo||

    DaveSs| 4.23.13 @ 4:59PM |#
    "Hypothesis:
    Black MJ users in DC are more likely to be arrested than white marijuana users in DC because black users are more likely to engage in other illicit behavior than their white MJ using counterparts."

    Could be.
    Could also be that blacks get busted for things the cops would ignore if they were white and then, yep, the cops find dope.
    Double-parking while black? Can I see your ID sir? What's that in the back seat? Please step out of the car, sir!

  • 1stworlder||

    Why sure officer, let me turn my light on for you. Sure let me open the bag its just a change of cloths for my second job. You say you arrested a black transvestite with 100lbs of cocaine in his back seat he said was confectioners sugar, what kind of junk did he have in his trunk. Thank you officer for letting me go with a warning. You have a point white people can get pulled over, gotten out of their cars and as long as they are not Xholes and not have any visible contraband can get away with a fine or a warning. If your insurance or registration is expired no warning even for whites.

  • 1stworlder||

    http://www.policeone.com/polic.....n-the-job/
    "He was scarcely up to highway speed when he spotted a lone male black driver in a white Pontiac Bonneville and pulled alongside him. “He gave me ‘the Look,’ that oh-crap-there’s-the-police look, and I knew he was the guy,” Gramins said"

  • WomSom||

    lol, why the black man always gotta make a big ole "Black Thang" out of it?

    www.Dodge-CISPA.tk

  • DarroyoMan||

    It could also have something to do with DC being 50% black compared to the national average of 17% (source: U.S. Census).

    While I agree with the sentiment, your assertion is misleading. You could do a comparison of the incarceration rate in DC and weigh it against the national incarceration rate for marijuana busts. I emphasize weigh so that you can get an accurate view of whether or not it's outside the national average.

  • 1stworlder||

    This is almost as bad as when a freedom of information act forced NYC to admit that blacks(83%) and Hispanics(15%) commit 98% of all gun crime despite only being 1/2 the population.

    http://www.thepoliticalcesspoo.....hispanics/

  • 1stworlder||

    From the largest police in the US we have an answer.
    http://www.policeone.com/polic.....n-the-job/

    "He was scarcely up to highway speed when he spotted a lone male black driver in a white Pontiac Bonneville and pulled alongside him. “He gave me ‘the Look,’ that oh-crap-there’s-the-police look, and I knew he was the guy,” Gramins said.

    Gramins dropped behind him. Then in a sudden, last-minute move the suspect accelerated sharply and swerved across three lanes of traffic to roar up an exit ramp. “I’ve got one running!” Gramins radioed."

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