A new report shows a wide racial disparity in arrests for possession of marijuana. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, African Americans are nearly four times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites. The gap comes despite the fact pot usage amongst whites and blacks is nearly equal. Overall, marijuana possession now accounts for nearly half of all drug arrests. The ACLU concludes: “State and local governments have aggressively enforced marijuana laws selectively against Black people and communities, needlessly ensnaring hundreds of thousands of people in the criminal justice system at tremendous human and financial cost.”

Continue reading:  http://www.democracynow.org/2013/6/5/headlines#6511

Further reading:  http://www.slate.com/blogs/crime/2013/06/04/marijuana_possession_laws_aclu_report_why_blacks_are_four_times_more_likely.html

Commentary by The Secular Jurist:  The following excerpt from the second article highlights the financial incentives for the War on Drugs, which is further complicated by the profit motives of our privatized prison systems:

But you can also blame the federal government. While the current federal drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, has spoken about the need to treat marijuana use as a public health matter rather than a strictly criminal one, others in the federal government aren’t nearly as progressive. The ACLU report talks about a federal program called the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant, which doles out funding to police departments in large part based on the number of drug arrests they make. With municipal budgets strapped, police departments depend on these sorts of federal grants. The “public health” approach to marijuana will never be viable as long as JAG funding and similar programs are essential to departments’ survival.