Study Investigates Racial Disparity in Mid-South Marijuana Arrests

Study Investigates Racial Disparity in Mid-South Marijuana Arrests

A new study says while blacks and whites in the Mid-South smoke marijuana almost equally, black people are more likely to be arrested for it.
MEMPHIS, TN (localmemphis.com) - A new study says while blacks and whites in the Mid-South smoke marijuana almost equally, black people are more likely to be arrested for it.

The study by the American Civil Liberties Union, found blacks in Tennessee are more than 4 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession.

"I'm not surprised at all," said DeAndre Brown, founder of Lifeline to Success, a group that works with at-risk teens.

"It is a lot easier to arrest a low level drug offender in a poor neighborhood then it is to catch someone that is a little higher on the food chain," he added. "It is a quick snatch, the numbers look pretty good, make sure we get the money that is necessary."

"Everybody smokes weed, I haven't smoked weed since I was 18," said Clarence Porter. "When I was smoking weed, everyone smoked weed."

The ACLU study looked at marijuana possession arrests from 2001 to 2010, and found the racial disparity is growing.

Outside the Shelby County Jail at 201 Poplar, Antwone Fisher was getting his first breath of fresh air in weeks.

"It feels good, my eyes hurt, I haven't been in the sun for so long," Fisher said.

Fisher said he was arrested on May 22nd, after Memphis Police found more than two ounces of marijuana on him during a traffic stop in East Memphis.

Fisher said he wasn't surprised by the study.

"Everybody in there is black, and arrested for weed and stuff," he said.

Congressman Steve Cohen says he's looking into the matter. Last month he sponsored a bill to create the National Commission on Federal Marijuana Policy. The commission will look at state and federal marijuana policy and the racial disparity.

"People have been questioning why this is for decades and I definitely don't have an answer," Brandon Hodges said.

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