Colorado’s claims of cannabis ‘social justice’ fall short

By July 26, 2021 Recent News

Black Coloradans arrested at twice the rate of white people nearly a decade after pot legalization
Colorado Newsline 22 July 2021
Though the total number of arrests for adults and juveniles for pot-related crimes has gone down overall since Colorado legalized marijuana in 2012, wide racial disparities persist, a new report finds.

The widest disparity is among Black Coloradans, who are arrested at twice the rate of white people for pot-related charges, according to a 180-page analysis published this week by the state Department of Public Safety.

“This report provides a wealth of valuable information to help policymakers, law enforcement, schools, the marijuana industry, and the public understand the effects of legal recreational marijuana in our communities,” Stan Hilkey, executive director of the Department of Public Safety, said in a written statement.

“The information is presented in a comprehensive and unbiased manner, and I am proud of the detailed and extensive work our DCJ researchers have done to collect and analyze this vast compilation of data,” he added.

According to the report, which is required by law every two years, the total number of marijuana arrests decreased by 68% between 2012 and 2019, from 13,225 to 4,290. The number of marijuana arrests decreased by 72% for white people, 63% for Black people and 55% for Hispanic people. 

The analysis found that the marijuana arrest rate for Black people (160 per 100,000) was more than double that of white people (76 per 100,000) in 2019. The report noted that the disparity has not changed in any meaningful way since marijuana was legalized in Colorado in 2012. 

Similar disparities persist for juveniles arrested for marijuana-related issues. For white juveniles, arrests decreased by 47% from 2012 to 2019, compared to 41% for Black juveniles and 26% for Hispanic juveniles.