In June 2013, the ACLU released its report, "The War on Marijuana in Black and White: Billions of Dollars Wasted on Racially Biased Arrests." This is the first-ever report to examine nationwide state and county marijuana arrest data by race. According to the report, Missouri blacks were arrested for marijuana possession at 2.6 times the rate of whites in 2010, despite comparable marijuana usage rates.

"The war on marijuana has disproportionately been a war on people of color," said Ezekiel Edwards, director of the ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project and one of the primary authors of the report. "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."

The findings show that while there were pronounced racial disparities in marijuana arrests 10 years ago, they have grown significantly worse, and that is the case in Missouri. The Missouri counties with the largest racial disparity in marijuana possession arrests were St. Louis City, Pettis, Lafayette, Jasper and Butler; St. Louis City's 18-to-1 disparity was the highest in the state. Statewide, police officers made 18,416 arrests for marijuana possession in 2010, and marijuana possession rates accounted for 50.4 percent of all drug arrests in 2010. In the past 10 years, marijuana possession arrest rates have risen 43.6 percent and the racial disparities among such arrests have increased 9 percent.

"Because marijuana laws are enforced with a racial bias, people of color disproportionately bear the brunt of the huge personal costs that often linger for years," said Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of the ACLU of Missouri. "The war on marijuana has failed, so let's stop wasting money and resources on escalating marijuana arrests and work on policies that are smarter at reducing drug dependency and fairer."

See data for Missouri.

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