By Steve Elliott
The disturbing trend of racial disparities in marijuana arrests continued in 2012 in Philadelphia, according to an annual review of cannabis arrest statistics from Philly NORML.
The Philly affiliate of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, using data from the Pennsylvania Uniform Crime Reporting System, found that there were 6,614 marijuana-related arrests in Philadelphia during 2012. Of those, 4,272 were for simple possession only.
African-Americans were arrested for marijuana possession at five times the rate of whites in Philadelphia. All other drug arrests are more equal when compared by race, according to Philly NORML.
About 75 percent of the marijuana possession arrests were of people between the ages of 18 and 34. Ninety percent were male.
By comparison, whites and blacks were arrested in almost equal numbers for opiates and cocaine.
When looking at the state of Pennsylvania as a whole, of all adults arrested for simple marijuana possession, 85 percent were men and 71 percent were white. Of adults arrested for sales and/or manufacture of cannabis, 58 percent were white and 90 percent were male.
"Marijuana arrests in Philadelphia continue with a disturbing trend of racial disparity," said Chris Goldstein of Philly NORML. "Black and white Americans consume marijuana at nearly equal rates and the city's population is admirably diverse, yet it is residents of color who continue to be the focus of law enforcement."