ACLU: Marijuana arrests for black people 3.7 times more than white people

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Declaring “It’s time to end the war on marijuana,” the American Civil Liberties Union reported Tuesday that black Americans were 3.7 times likelier than white Americans to be arrested for pot possession in 2010 despite similar rates of use.

“Though there were pronounced racial disparities in marijuana arrests 10 years ago, disparities have increased in 38 of 50 states and the District of Columbia,” the ACLU concluded in its report, “The War on Marijuana in Black and White.”  

In Indiana, black people were 3.4 times likelier than white people to be arrested for marijuana possession in 2010, a rate equal to or slightly lower than recent years, according to the report. For every 100,000 in population, 591 black individuals were arrested for marijuana possession in Indiana compared with 174 white people arrested. Total Indiana possession arrests declined approximately 12 percent in 2010 compared with 2009, according to the data.

Elkhart County has the highest racial disparity in the state, with black people arrested 7 times more frequently than white people for marijuana possession. Among the state’s largest counties, the report says black people were arrested more often than white people at these rates: Allen, 6.4 times; Hamilton, 5.5; Marion, 4.7; St. Joseph, 4.2; Lake, 2.0.

The report produced the following data about Indiana marijuana possession arrests in 2010:

  • Those arrests constituted 44 percent of all drug arrests, compared with the national average of about 50 percent.
  •  In 30 Indiana counties, black people were arrested at a rate higher than the national average.
  • Indiana spent almost $38.5 million enforcing marijuana possession laws. The ACLU estimates all states spent a combined $3.6 billion.

“ACLU recommends that states legalize marijuana possession and use for persons 21 or older through a system of taxation, licensing and regulation, like alcohol,” the national organization said in releasing the report. “If legalization is not possible, the ACLU recommends depenalizing marijuana use and possession by removing all related civil and criminal penalties for such authorized activities for persons 21 or older, or, if depenalization is unobtainable, decriminalizing use and possession for adults and youth by classifying such activities as civil offenses.”

A measure that would have reduced the penalties for marijuana possession was introduced in the Indiana General Assembly this year but didn’t receive a committee vote. Penalties for marijuana possession are revised in the pending criminal code revision adopted by the Legislature this year.



  • Racial Discrimination with marijuana arrests
    You are 4.7 times as likely in Marion County to get arrested for marijuana possession if you are black. Why is a county prosecutor who is a Democrat who determines whether criminal cases should be filed filing so many cases against blacks?

Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

  2. Paul Hartman of Burbank, Oh who is helping Sister Fuller with this Con Artist Kevin Bart McCarthy scares Sister Joseph Therese, Patricia Ann Fuller very much that McCarthy will try and hurt Patricia Ann Fuller and Paul Hartman of Burbank, Oh or any member of his family. Sister is very, very scared, (YES, I AM) This McCarthy guy is a real, real CON MAN and crook. I try to totall flatter Kevin Bart McCARTHY to keep him from hurting my best friends in this world which are Carolyn Rose and Paul Hartman. I Live in total fear of this man Kevin Bart McCarthy and try to praise him as a good man to keep us ALL from his bad deeds. This man could easy have some one cause us a very bad disability. You have to PRAISAE in order TO PROTECT yourself. He lies and makes up stories about people and then tries to steal if THEY OWN THRU THE COURTS A SPECIAL DEVOTION TO PROTECT, EX> Our Lady of America DEVOTION. EVERYONE who reads this, PLEASE BE CAREFUL of Kevin Bart McCarthy of Indianapolis, IN My Phone No. IS 419-435-3838.

  3. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.

  4. I had a hospital and dcs caseworker falsify reports that my child was born with drugs in her system. I filed a complaint with the Indiana department of health....and they found that the hospital falsified drug screens in their investigation. Then I filed a complaint with human health services in Washington DC...dcs drug Testing is unregulated and is indicating false positives...they are currently being investigated by human health services. Then I located an attorney and signed contracts one month ago to sue dcs and Anderson community hospital. Once the suit is filed I am taking out a loan against the suit and paying a law firm to file a writ of mandamus challenging the courts jurisdiction to invoke chins case against me. I also forwarded evidence to a u.s. senator who contacted hhs to push an investigation faster. Once the lawsuit is filed local news stations will be running coverage on the situation. Easy day....people will be losing their jobs soon...and judge pancol...who has attempted to cover up what has happened will also be in trouble. The drug testing is a kids for cash and federal funding situation.

  5. (A)ll (C)riminals (L)ove (U)s is up to their old, "If it's honorable and pro-American, we're against it," nonsense. I'm not a big Pence fan but at least he's showing his patriotism which is something the left won't do.