Miami has a serious pot problem.
According to a study released yesterday by the ACLU, Miami-Dade is one of the most aggressive and racially biased counties in the country when it comes to marijuana arrests.
Not only did Miami have the ninth most marijuana arrests of any American city in 2010, but 57 percent of those arrests targeted African-Americans. That means Miami's black residents are 5.4 times as likely to be arrested for weed possession than whites -- the fifth worst racial disparity in the nation.
The disturbing data are part of a damning new ACLU report titled "The War on Marijuana In Black and White." It argues that the U.S.'s pot policy has gone haywire: America's 8 million marijuana arrests between 2001 and 2010 amounted to one bust every 37 seconds, or 52 percent of all arrests nationwide.
But the report is most indicting when it comes to race. "A Black person is 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than a white person, even though Blacks and whites use marijuana at similar rates," the ACLU found.
Florida is worse than most states, the study says.
The Sunshine State had the third most total arrests for marijuana possession (57,951) and the country's 11th highest arrest rate for marijuana possession (308 per 100,000), both in 2010.
"Marijuana prohibition is taking a toll on the entire country, but Florida is among the states paying the biggest price," said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the ACLU's Marijuana Policy Project in a press release. "Law enforcement resources would be better spent addressing serious crimes instead of arresting adults for using a substance objectively less harmful than alcohol."
Miami's marijuana arrests were particularly out of whack, according to the report.
Miami-Dade's 9,240 marijuana-related arrests in 2010 put it just behind Maricopa County, Arizona. But African-Americans only made up 13 percent of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's pot arrests, compared to 57.1 percent in Dade.
That's the fifth most racially lopsided ratio in the country, and the fourth worst among major American cities. Only Cook County, IL, New York County, NY, and Kings County, NY, showed greater disparities.
And it looks like things are only getting worse. Marijuana arrests more than doubled in Miami-Dade between 2001 and 2010, increasing 117 percent from 170 per 100,000 residents to 369.
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Then again, none of this should surprise New Times readers. As this newspaper reported last year, Miami-Dade Police often targets African-American neighborhoods like Liberty City for its high-profile SWAT raids, only to end up arresting a few dozen young men for nothing more than the roach in their pocket.