Report Suggests Race May Be Factor In NJ Marijuana Arrests

NEWARK, NJ (CBS) — A new report from the American Civil Liberties Union suggests race plays a significant factor in who gets arrested for marijuana possession in New Jersey.

They combed through arrest data for the first 13 years of the 21st century before coming up with the numbers, and they are striking.

“New Jersey is arresting black people at a rate that’s three times higher than whites,” report author Dianna Houenou told KYW Newsradio. “And that’s a rate that’s across the state. But in some counties, the disparity is much more pronounced.”

Gloucester County comes in fifth overall, and nine of the top 50 cities for marijuana arrests are in Camden, Burlington, and Gloucester Counties.

dianna houenou rectangle large 3 6 16 2017 Report Suggests Race May Be Factor In NJ Marijuana Arrests

Dianna Houenou of the ACLU of New Jersey. (credit: ACLU of New Jersey)

Houenou says raw arrest numbers for 2014 and 2015 show even more arrests, although they haven’t been able to come up with a racial breakdown.

Bottom line, she has two suggestions for addressing the issue. One is to push for the legalization of recreational marijuana in the state.

“No one should be punished for marijuana use,” she added. “We have been criminalizing drug use for decades, and that criminalization has not eliminated drugs. It’s only made people’s lives worse.”

Her report also suggests the state clear the criminal records of those whose drug arrests could be related to race.

We reached out to the Attorney General’s office, who declined comment.

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