City & State: Can legalizing pot help communities heal?

“Despite roughly equal usage of marijuana among racial groups, data has shown that Black and Latino men get arrested and ticketed for marijuana offenses at eight times the rate of white men in New York City, even as enforcement has declined under Mayor Bill de Blasio. This policing disparity exists in communities throughout the state. And the existing data likely doesn’t account for the full impact that marijuana prohibition has had on communities of color through police encounters that may not have resulted in marijuana-related charges. “We really see, as a public defender, the odor of marijuana has kind of become a go-to rationale for stopping people and searching them after stop-and-frisk was outlawed,” Eli Northrup, policy counsel with the Bronx Defenders, said. “And it’s something that’s very hard to disprove.”

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