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Virginia Among States with Most Marijuana Arrests

Graphic: The ACLU finds African Americans in Virginia are three times as likely as white people to be arrested for marijuana possession.
Graphic: The ACLU finds African Americans in Virginia are three times as likely as white people to be arrested for marijuana possession.
June 10, 2013

RICHMOND, Va. - Virginia is 12th in the nation when it comes to the number of marijuana arrests. A new report from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) also revealed that African-Americans were almost three times as likely as white people to be arrested for possession in the state.

Study author Ezekiel Edwards, director of the ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project, blamed racial bias, since federal studies show usage rates are about the same for both blacks and whites.

"Race being the one common factor here certainly raises questions about racial profiling and community profiling. I think the police are more likely to go to certain neighborhoods," Edwards said.

The study found that black people were almost eight times more likely to be arrested than whites in Arlington and Botetourt counties.

Virginia and neighboring Maryland are also spending heavily to crack down on marijuana use, Edwards said.

"Maryland spent an estimated $106 million enforcing marijuana laws, Virginia over $67 million. That's money that really should go to public schools, drug treatment and to fight serious crime."

Alison Burns, Public News Service - VA