Marijuana Arrests by the Numbers, ACLU, 2013

According to the ACLU’s original analysis, marijuana arrests now account for over half of all drug arrests in the United States. Of the 8.2 million marijuana arrests between 2001 and 2010, 88% were for simply having marijuana. Nationwide, the arrest data revealed one consistent trend: significant racial bias. Despite roughly equal usage rates, Blacks are 3.73 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana.

Read More
Lessons Learned After 4 Years Of Marijuana Legalization. Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), 2016

In the wake of multimillion-dollar political campaigns funded with out-of-state money, Colorado and Washington voted to legalize marijuana in November 2012. Though it would take more than a year to set up retail stores, personal use (in Colorado and Washington) and home cultivation (in Colorado, which includes giving away of up to six plants) were almost immediately legalized after the vote. Using marijuana in public, which remains illegal under these new laws, has increased conspicuously in both states. Also, a brandnew marijuana industry selling candies, cookies, waxes, sodas, and other marijuana items has exploded—and with it a powerful lobby to fight any sensible regulation. Though it is still early—the full effects on mental health and educational outcomes, for example, will take many more years to fully develop—these “experiments” in legalization and commercialization are not succeeding by any measure.

Additionally, as explained in greater detail below, the laws have had significant negative impacts on public health and safety, such as: • Rising rates of pot use by minors • Increasing arrest rates of minors, especially black and Hispanic children • Higher rates of traffic deaths from driving while high • More marijuana-related poisonings and hospitalizations • A persistent black market that may now involve increased Mexican cartel activity in Colorado

Read More
A Wealth of Inequalities: Mass Incarceration, Employment, and Racial Disparities in U.S. Household Wealth, 1996 to 2011 by Bryan L. Sykes a Michelle Maroto, Russell Sage Foundation, 2016

Despite the strong relationship between the rise in mass incarceration over the last forty years and racial inequality in employment and wages, few studies have examined the long-term consequences and spillover effects of criminal justice contact on the black-white wealth gap in the United States. In this paper, we investigate the mechanisms whereby the local and distal incarceration of a family member affects household wealth, focusing on wealth disparities by race and education. Using data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), the Current Population Survey, and the Survey of Inmates in State and Federal Correctional Facilities and Local Jails, we apply fixed-effects and probit models to estimate how a family member’s incarceration influences household assets and debt over panel waves. We find that having an incarcerated family member reduced household assets by 64.3 percent and debt by 85.1 percent after we adjusted for the underrepresentation of institutionalization in SIPP data. We also discuss these findings in the context of broader racial disparities in wealth and employment. Our findings demonstrate how contemporary patterns of mass incarceration contribute to the maintenance of social inequality in wealth and form barriers to economic security for other household members.

Read More
Planning for Marijuana: The Cannabis Conundrum by Jeremy Németh & Eric Ross, Journal of the American Planning Association, 2014

Problem, research strategy, and findings: Twenty-three states and Washington, DC, have legalized medical marijuana, raising difficult land use questions for planners regarding allowable locations, buffering from sensitive uses, and distribution of facilities. We know little about how local jurisdictions regulate medical marijuana dispensary (MMD) location and operation and how equitably different regulatory models distribute these facilities. We begin with an overview of MMD impacts related to crime, property values, and quality of life. We then review emerging local regulation of MMDs with a particular emphasis on land use controls, and find that most authorities regulate MMD location like they do other locally unwanted land uses (LULUs) such as sex-oriented businesses and liquor stores. Given a history of siting LULUs in less-affluent neighborhoods and communities of color, we conduct a case study of Denver and show that four common regulatory models concentrate land that permits MMDs in socioeconomically disadvantaged tracts and areas with high proportions of persons of color.

Takeaway for practice: Local planners are often caught unprepared for the land use implications of medical marijuana legalization. This outline of common land use regulatory models and a replicable analytical model help practitioners develop ordinances that square with their own communities’ goals, values, and attributes.

Read More
The Effect of Legalizing Retail Marijuana on Housing Values: Evidence from Colorado by Cheng Cheng et al., Wiley Online Library, 2018

Does legalizing retail marijuana generate more benefits than costs? This paper provides a first step toward addressing that question by measuring the benefits and costs that are capitalized into housing values. We exploit the time‐series and cross‐sectional variations in the adoption of Colorado's municipality retail marijuana laws (RMLs) and examine the effect on housing values with a difference‐in‐differences strategy. Our estimates show that the legalization leads to an average 6% increase in housing values, indicating that the capitalized benefits outweigh the costs. In addition, we find suggestive evidence that this relatively large housing value appreciation is likely due to RMLs inducing strong housing demand while having no discernible effect on housing supply. Finally, we show that the effect of RMLs is heterogeneous across locations and property types. (JEL K20, R28)

Read More
The case for drug war “reparations” Activists have a plan to make legal weed lucrative for more than just white people by Amanda Chicago Lewis, VICE News, 2017

Marijuana legalization has the potential to make a lot of people very rich — a lot of white people, that is. It’s common knowledge that pot prohibition disproportionately affected people of color, but most states have made it difficult for black and brown people to get involved in the legal weed business.

Recently, however, more lawmakers around the country have come to terms with the need to account for race when putting together the details of marijuana legalization. And yet figuring out how, exactly, to write laws that acknowledge the racial biases of the past has proven difficult, mostly due to the legal complications surrounding affirmative action.

Read More
Equitable Cannabis Policy by Leslie Valencia, University of California Berkeley, The Greenlining Institute, 2017

The criminalization of the marijuana plant has had disparate impacts on communities of color in the United States for decades, but despite it still being considered an illegal substance at the federal level, states across the country have been increasingly passing measures to regulate the industry. Prior to 2016, 26 states and the District of Columbia had already legalized medical marijuana in some form, with the exception of three that had also legalized recreational cannabis. Washington and Colorado, however, were the only states that actually taxed and regulated both medical and recreational marijuana in 2012, revealing its economic potential. In 2016 alone, California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada passed measures to tax and regulate recreational marijuana, while Montana, Arkansas, Florida and North Dakota passed measures for medical cannabis. As states continue to regulate this growing and profitable market, it is crucial for local authorities to create new policies that aim to prevent any future discrimination associated with the industry. Because California is projected to be the largest and most profitable market in the country, it is important to consider the equity implications of this industry. In this paper, the city of Oakland’s Equity Permit Program is analyzed as a potential model of local equitable cannabis policy for other cities in California.

Read More
Marijuana: A Short History by John Hudak, The Brookings Institution Press, 2016

From Reefer Madness to legal purchase at the corner store.With long-time legal and social barriers to marijuana falling across much of the United States, the time has come for an accessible and informative look at attitudes toward the dried byproduct ofCannabis sativa.Marijuana: A Short Historyprofiles the politics and policies concerning the five-leaf plant in the United States and around the world.Millions of Americans have used marijuana at some point in their lives, yet it remains a substance shrouded by myth, misinformation, and mystery. This book offers an up-to-date, cutting-edge look at how a plant with a tumultuous history has emerged from the shadows of counterculture and illegality. Today, marijuana has become a remarkable social, economic, and even political force, with a surprising range of advocates and opponents. Public policy toward marijuana, especially in the United States, is changing rapidly.Marijuana: A Short Historyprovides a brief yet compelling narrative that discusses the social and cultural history of marijuana but also tells us how a once-vilified plant has been transformed into a serious, even mainstream, public policy issue. Focusing on politics, the media, government, and education, the book describes why public policy has changed, and what that change might mean for marijuana's future place in society.

Read More
Humboldt Journal of Social Relations Vol. 35, 2013, Current Perspectives on Marijuana and Society, Humboldt State University

The Humboldt Journal of Social Relations (HJSR) is a peer reviewed free online journal housed in the Department of Sociology at Humboldt State University. This internationally recognized journal produces one annual themed spring edition focused around current issues and topics. While the articles primarily draw authors from the social sciences, we have also facilitated interdisciplinary collaborations among authors from the arts, humanities, natural sciences & the social sciences. 

Read More
The War on Marijuana Has a Latino Data Problem by Garcia, Lynda, ACLU, 2013

We know that the War on Marijuana unnecessarily drags hundreds of thousands of people into the criminal justice system every year for having marijuana. And, because of a new ACLU report, we know that it is Blacks who are disproportionately arrested– despite the fact that Blacks and whites use marijuana at comparable rates.

But something—or someone—is missing here: Latinos.

There are 52 million Latinos in the United States, yet we cannot track whether they, too, are targeted for marijuana possession arrests at disproportionate rates. Why? Because the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports (UCR), the federal government's data source for national crime statistics, does not keep data on ethnicity, and thus it is impossible to determine if an arrest is of a Latino or non-Latino.

Without this data, we do not have a full picture of how the selective enforcement of marijuana laws impacts all communities of color.

Read More
The War on Marijuana in Black and White by Edwards, Ezekiel et al., ACLU Foundation, 2013

This report is the first to examine marijuana possession arrest rates by race for all 50 states (and the District of Columbia) and their respective counties from 2001 to 2010. The report relies on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program and the United States Census’ annual county population estimates to document arrest rates by race per 100,000 for marijuana possession.

Read More