In Allegheny County, black residents are arrested more, charged more, sit in jail longer, and pay more for misdemeanor marijuana possession offenses than white residents. That’s according to a new report from The Appeal, a team of journalists who focus on criminal justice in the United States. The report highlights the ongoing racial disparities in marijuana enforcement in Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh in particular. And its conclusions are especially striking in light of the city’s decriminalization of marijuana in 2015. Indeed, The Appeal’s findings show that despite progressive drug policy reforms, law enforcement and the criminal legal system are still geared against people of color.
In Decriminalized Pittsburgh, Police Arrest and Charge Black People For Weed Way More Than White People
Pittsburgh, in Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County, decriminalized cannabis in 2015. Part of the policy shift involved giving law enforcement a choice between arresting people for suspected marijuana offenses or giving them a citation. Further downstream the criminal legal system, prosecutors in Pennsylvania’s major cities enacted “decline to prosecute” policies for minor cannabis cases that went to trial.
Yet arrests for marijuana have increased since Pittsburgh enacted decriminalization policies. Many police departments are continuing to arrest rather than ticket suspected offenders. Analyzing all