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While many across the country plan on partaking this 4/20, it’s a holiday that still can’t be celebrated equally and freely by all.
Research has consistently shown that there are significant racial disparities in sentencing for marijuana possession between White and Black people in the United States.
Several studies have found that Black people are more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession, and once arrested, they are more likely to be charged, convicted, and sentenced to harsher penalties than White individuals for the same offense.
For example, a report by the American Civil Liberties Union found that Black people were 3.64 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than White people, despite similar rates of use. Additionally, the report found that Black people were nearly four times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession as White people, even in states where marijuana has been legalized.
In every single state, Black people were more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession
In some states, Black people were up to six, eight, or almost 10 times more likely to be arrested. In 31 states, racial disparities were actually larger in 2018 than they were in 2010.
As more and more states legalize medical and recreational marijuana, the fight to expunge records and release people solely incarcerated for marijuana possession has grown.
Speaking to a group of reporters, Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond said he supported a mechanism for the expungement of marijuana convictions.
“If [SQ820] does not pass, I do think in the spirit of criminal justice reform, marijuana possession and consumption should be addressed,” Drummond said. “And there should be a mechanism considered by the legislature that I’m happy to administer toward the expungement of those things.”
In order for 4/20 to be a holiday that can be celebrated equally and freely by all, the disproportionate arrests and convictions of Black people must end.