Race and Pot

In two previous commentaries, I reported on two seemingly separate issues, race and pot.  In the first example, I reported on the huge racial disparities in the state of Louisiana, while the second dealt with the myth that pot was a “gateway” drug.

Now a new report appears that links pot arrests with race.  In this report it is stated that in New York City: “Over the last 15 years, more than 85 percent of the half-million-plus people charged with misdemeanor possession there have been black or Latino.”  Similar discrepancies are found in virtually every urban area.

The author summarizes three theories that help explain these discrepancies.  First, there is the fact that the “broken windows” theory prompted police to focus their attention on minor offenses, which included people smoking pot. 

Second, most of those arrested in such cases are committing their offenses in public view.  This automatically means that poor people, who are most often hanging out in public view (and this directly relates to race).  The poor (which is typically associated with race) live in crowded urban areas where most of their activities (legal and illegal) are done in public view.  Unlike the more affluent, they cannot engage in their illegal activities in the back yards of their suburban homes