How Racist Is Your State's War on Weed? Compare!

Washington Area Spark/FlickrWashington Area Spark/FlickrA new interactive website from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) highlights how many lives are derailed and billions of dollars wasted fighting a racially biased war on drugs in America.

The site, called The Uncovery, offers state-by-state statistics on U.S. marijuana arrests, emphasizing racial disparities and the cost of enforcing drug laws. 

The stats are based on data from the ACLU's "War on Marijuana" report. For the U.S. overall, someone is arrested for marijuana every 0.01 hours and this person is 3.73 times more likely to be black than white. The site notes that the U.S. spent more than $3.6 billion enforcing marijuana laws in 2010 and that 88 percent of marijuana arrests are for possession (in New York and Texas, that figure is 97 percent). The Uncovery also breaks down marijuana arrest and spending stats by state. Let's take a look. 

The 10 states spending the most on marijuana law enforcement: 

1. New York: $678,450,560
2. California: $490,966,080
3. Texas: $251,648,800
4. Florida: $228,635,840
5. Illinois: $221,431,776
6. New Jersey: $127,342,512
7. Georgia: $121,898,152
8. Ohio: $120,148,064
9. Maryland: $106,702,784
10. Pennsylvania: $100,748,528

Staggering, no? And the disparities in black-to-white arrest ratios are equally horrifying. 

The 10 worst states for racially biased marijuana arrests: 

In ___, a black person is ___ times more likely to be arrested than a white person for having marijuana. 

1. Iowa - 8.33
2. D.C. - 8.05
3. Minnesota - 7.81
4. Illinois - 7.56
5. Wisconsin - 5.98
6. Kentucky - 5.95
7. Pennsylvania - 5.19
8. South Dakota - 4.78
9. Nebraska - 4.65
10. New York - 4.52 

States with the smallest racial disparities in marijuana arrests were Hawaii (where blacks were only 0.99 times as likely as whites to be arrested for marijuana), Alaska (1.6 times more likely), New Mexico (1.86), Oregon (2.08), and Maine (2.13). All five of these states have very small African American populations overall. 

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  • Paul.||

    States with the smallest racial disparities in marijuana arrests were Hawaii (where blacks were only 0.99 times as likely as whites to be arrested for marijuana), Alaska (1.6 times more likely), New Mexico (1.86), Oregon (2.08), and Maine (2.13). All five of these states have very small African American populations overall.

    Were you considered racist if you only arrested black people?

  • Florida Man||

    How does this break down per capita. FL is spend 11.80 per person for this waste of time.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    "FL is spend 11.80 per person for this waste of time."

    How much per black person?

  • Florida Man||

    $73.97

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    Fuck you is a mat whiz aintcha hwo do you do that?

  • sloopyinca||

    Can we get a per capita spending breakdown, please? The overall numbers aren't that helpful. Also, what are the feds spending in each state? Is there data for that, because I'm sure they're at least equalling the state spending, especially in states where they aren't really fighting the war on pot anymore.

  • ||

    Is there a hit and run bracket this year? Or did someone else usually do that?

  • Florida Man||

    Crowd source unite! Every do your state's per capita cost. Me back in 5 minutes. Break!

  • UnCivilServant||

    $678,450,560 by 19,651,127 people is

    $34.5/New Yorker.

  • UnCivilServant||

    That is the first comment I've managed to get in hours, and FireFox spun for five solid minutes before the post went through.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    Okay, now how much per person that is actually paying income tax?

  • UnCivilServant||

    No idea, I don't work at DTF.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    Colorado = 0.00/per person

    YAY!

    *probably not true as they are still arresting distributors etc. but they may be federal arrests.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    Are your taxes getting cut then?

  • seguin||

    The racial disparities...I'm at work, don't have time to slog through the study...did they control for percentage of black people in the population, because otherwise it's not really useful data, is it?

  • perlhaqr||

    This. New Mexico only has like, 20 black people, so...

  • CampingInYourPark||

    In ___, a black person is ___ times more likely to be arrested than a white person for having marijuana tipping a rock over.

    Fill out your brackets!

  • GILMORE||

    Am I a statist, racist drug warrior for hating the pretentious way the idiots designed that website and made it as hard as possible to get beyond their cute graphics and chosen headlines to the broader set of information, and any context?

    Because what fighting the drug war needs is just more flash animation?

    I suspect hipsters.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    I don't believe that disparate impacts = racism.

  • Rhywun||

    Me neither, but unfortunately it's easier to get the attention of low-information people with "racism!" than "it's none of your business what I choose to injest".

  • SIV||

    Sounds like something a RACIST would say.
    I bet you don't think rape culture is responsible for rape either.

  • Adam.||

    Fuck midwest LEOs, you got that rasist bias on lockdown!

  • Knutsack||

    "The 10 worst states for racially biased marijuana arrests: ..."

    Look at all those racist southern states on the list!

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