New York

Blacks and Latinos Make Up Vast Majority of Marijuana Arrests, Advocates Say

Activists say young black and Latino New Yorkers are much more likely to be arrested for marijuana, despite the fact white New Yorkers use the drug at higher rates

Blacks and Latinos make up the vast majority of people arrested for marijuana in New York City, despite the fact they are less likely to use the drug, advocates say.

According to a new report by the Drug Policy Alliance and the Marijuana Arrest Research Project, 86 percent of low-level marijuana possession arrests between 2014 and 2016 were of blacks and Latinos. Whites and all remaining groups made up 14 percent of arrests in the city over those two years.

Of the more than 60,000 people arrested for marijuana in the two-year span, 52,730 were black or Latino. Whites and all other groups made up 8,260 of the arrests, according to the group. 

The Drug Policy Alliance says the report shows unjust and racially-targeted arrests in the city. The group is calling for an end to criminal penalties, with a plan on how the U.S. can move toward ending the criminalization of people who use marijuana.

“New York still maintains the distinction of continuing to arrest thousands upon thousands of New Yorkers,” one activist said. “And even more urgent, the dubious distinction of continuing staggering racial disparities.”

The report says young whites use marijuana at higher rates, but that the majority of those arrested are young black and Latino people. 

In Manhattan, black New Yorkers were arrested at 10 times the rate of whites; on Staten Island, it was 15 times the rate, the group said. 

When reached for comment, the NYPD told News 4 New York that the report fails to acknowledge its enforcement of quality of life issues when responding to public concerns.

Contact Us