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Despite Philadelphia Marijuana Decriminalization African Americans Still Taken Into Custody At Much Higher Rate


philadelphia marijuanaThe City of Philadelphia passed a measure that decriminalized possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana. However, issuing a ‘code violation’ instead of taking the person into custody is at the discretion of the officer. While most issue a code violation, some still do not. And those that do not are taking African American residents into custody at a rate of almost 5 times as often as non-African Americans. Per Philly.Com:

Black residents are still almost five times more likely to end up in custody for small amounts of weed.

According to that data from the Pennsylvania Uniform Crime Reporting System, 633 adults and 151 juveniles arrested for less than 30 grams of cannabis in 2015 by Philadelphia police.

Of the adults nabbed under the state misdemeanor for pot, 518 were African American (82 percent) and of the juveniles 112 were African American (74 percent).

I looked at demographic numbers, and African American residents make up 44.1% of Philadelphia’s population according to the 2010 census. There’s literally no excuse whatsoever for such a high arrest rate for African Americans, ESPECIALLY since there is now a public policy in place that allows law enforcement to issue a code violation rather than conducting an arrest for personal marijuana possession. I really hope that the City of Philadelphia looks into this. This is a good example of marijuana legalization still being needed despite decriminalization already being in place.


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Johnny Green


  1. Ham'Diya Lane on

    Absolute power corrupts absolutely.. The Cops should NOT have the ability to arrest ANYONE under an ounce.in my opinion this defeats the purpose of decrim and shows the Racial disparately in the judicial system.

  2. Richard Hurtz on

    A lot of cities and towns nationwide are decriminalizing and giving cops the option of issuing just a citation or violation ticket. While it is a very tiny step in the right direction, it is a joke, a mockery of the process, all it does if give cops the opportunity to decide whether on not to arrest someone for cannabis. If your average white Joe Citizen. you get a ticket, if your black, a minority, poor, the cop doesn’t like your car, is having a bad day, or the cops ex wife’s boyfriend or just someone the cop doesn’t like you get arrested.

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