ACLU says Pennsylvania should legalize marijuana, given racial disparity in arrests

“Legalization, taxation, and regulation of marijuana is ... the only option,” a report from the ACLU states

Marijuana arrests in Pennsylvania have doubled since 2010, said a report released by the ACLU of Pennsylvania Monday.

Citing limited police resources, black market marijuana sales that preempt more serious crimes, overpopulation of court and prison systems and the disproportionate arrest and prosecution of minorities and people of color, the ACLU called for an end to marijuana prohibition in the Commonwealth.

“Legalization, taxation, and regulation of marijuana is … the only option,” the report states.

Since 2010, the number of arrests of marijuana users for possession has more than doubled. Citing numbers by the Pennsylvania State Police, the ACLU report indicated there were 2,221 arrests by the PSP in 2010, and 4,612 arrests in 2016. And while the arrests for the everyday user has skyrocketed, arrests for manufacturing and selling marijuana has not. The report says arrests of adults and juveniles in Pa. for distribution dropped 30 percent between 2010 and 2016.

Looking at Philadelphia, which decriminalized marijuana possession charges in October 2014, implementing a civil offense for possessing less than 30 grams, the city saw a drop in adult marijuana possession arrests by more than 88 percent.

However, outside Philadelphia the numbers spiked, and that’s hitting the state taxpayer in the pocket — more than $225.3 million has been spent statewide on marijuana arrests between 2010 and 2016.

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