Minorities Over-Represented In Pot Arrests, Study Says
QOOVNRWϊ - AJEj
New York, NY:
African-Americans and Hispanics in New York City are far more likely to be arrested and receive a conviction for minor marijuana offenses than are white citizens, according to statistical data to be published in the journal Criminology and Public Policy.
Investigators at New York City's National Development Research Institute (NDRI), an independent think-tank specializing in substance abuse issues, analyzed local marijuana arrest data from 1980 to 2006. Authors reported that 85 percent of the defendants arrested in New York City for the crime of possessing marijuana in the fifth degree (e.g., smoking pot in public) were either African-American or Hispanic.
African-Americans and Hispanics together comprise approximately half of the city's population.
Investigators also reported that African-Americans were 2.66 times as likely as whites to be detained before arraignment while Hispanics were nearly twice as likely. In addition, both groups were twice as likely as whites to be convicted on pot charges.
Compared to Caucasians, African-Americans were four times as likely and Hispanics were three times as likely to receive additional jail time.
"In light of the disparities, we recommend that the NYPD consider scaling back on [the enforcement of] smoking marijuana in public view,... and that legislators... consider making smoking marijuana in public a violation and not a misdemeanor," authors concluded.
Although minor marijuana possession offenses are punishable by a civil citation under state law, the possession or use of cannabis in a public place is classified as a criminal misdemeanor. Citywide arrests for public smoking rose from less than 1,000 in 1990 to more than 51,000 in 2000.
In 2006, New York City police arrested approximately 32,000 citizens for the use of cannabis in public -- 87 percent of whom were either African-American or Hispanic.
A previous analysis of marijuana arrest data by the NORML Foundation reported nationwide racial disparities in marijuana law enforcement -- finding that although fewer than 12 percent of all self-reported pot smokers were African-American, they comprised 23% of all marijuana possession arrests.
Michigan: Democrats Back Medical Marijuana Resolution
QOOVNRWϊ - AJE~VKBfgCg
Patients who use cannabis medicinally under a doctor's supervision should not be subject to criminal penalties, according to a resolution unanimously adopted by delegates of Michigan's Democratic Party at the organization's 2007 state convention in Detroit.
Approximately 1,500 delegates backed the resolution, which was introduced by Benzie-County NORML and Michigan NORML.
"There were no dissenting voices whatsoever at the convention," Michigan NORML Executive Director Tim Beck said in an interview on Monday's edition of the NORML AudioStash. "Support for medical marijuana is [now] an official part of the Michigan Democratic Party platform."
Patients who use cannabis with a doctor's recommendation "should not be subject to criminal sanctions," the resolution states. It adds, "[L]icensed medical doctors should not be criminally punished for recommending the medical use of marijuana to seriously ill people."
The unanimous endorsement comes just days after voters in Flint passed a municipal measure shielding medicinal cannabis patients from local prosecution. Flint is the fifth Michigan city since 2004 to pass medical marijuana legislation.
Legislation to enact statewide protections on the possession and use of medicinal cannabis is pending before the Michigan House Judiciary Committee.
Hawaii: State's Legalization Of Pot Could Yield $33 Million Annually
QOOVNRWϊ - AJEnCBΌIt
West Oahu, HI:
Taxing and regulating cannabis in Hawaii in a manner similar to alcohol could yield the state approximately $33 million in annual revenues and cost savings, according to an economic analysis released last week by the University of Hawaii.
The study found that regulating cannabis could create annual tax revenues of up to $23 million. The study added that prosecuting and enforcing state pot laws costs taxpayers approximately $10 million per year. Of this total, more than 40 percent is spent by state and county law enforcement solely to enforce marijuana possession laws.
"Those who favor legalization... argue that policies like those involved in the regulation of alcohol and tobacco are far more effective in limiting the individual and social costs involved," the study states. "[T]axation is significantly cheaper in terms of enforcement and outcomes than outlawing substances."
The study also reports that law enforcement efforts to restrict Hawaii's pot supply have been ineffective because the black market price of marijuana per ounce has fallen over the last decade -- indicating a marked increase in supply and consumption.
A previous nationwide analysis of marijuana policy by Boston University economist Jeffrey Miron reported that enforcing state and federal pot laws costs taxpayers an estimated $7.7 billion annually.