Black people now make up a larger percentage of those arrested by the LAPD for marijuana offenses than before 2018
In 2017, when recreational cannabis was still illegal in California, the Los Angeles Police Department arrested 173 Black people for marijuana-related offenses. The next year, cannabis was legalized, and the LAPD arrested 239 Black people for those offenses. Last year, the number jumped again, to 261.
The climbing numbers of arrests for Black people point to a chronic failure in the way marijuana legalization has played out across Los Angeles.
In 2016, voters in California passed Prop. 64, which made recreational cannabis use legal. It went into effect on Jan. 1, 2018. The measure drew broad support, particularly from civil rights groups, which noted that Black and Latino communities had endured disproportionately higher arrest rates and stiffer sentences under drug laws. Advocates thought the new law would reverse this troubling trend.
But in the two and a half years since marijuana use was legalized, the opposite has happened. Though overall arrests for marijuana-related offenses have fallen sharply over the past decade, Black people now make up a larger percentage of those being detained.
In 2016, Black people accounted for 32.2% of all marijuana arrests in Los Angeles. Last year, that portion rose to 42.3%, according to LAPD data. Black people make up 8.9% of the city’s population.
White people, meanwhile, accounted for 20% of all marijuana arrests in 2016. Last year, they accounted for only 11.5%. Non-Hispanic white people are roughly 28.5% of the city’s population.
Post-legalization, more Black people arrested for marijuana