Marijuana: Information on disproportionate arrests, and voting recommendations

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Because nobody can get enough of either these electoral days, here are some bits dealing with marijuana and the coming election.

• First, the Marijuana Arrest Research Project, a national research organization, yesterday released a report saying that between 1986 and 2010, roughly 210,000 Coloradans were arrested for marijuana possession, with more than half of those coming in the last 10 years.

Some other findings, as quoted in the press release:

— In the last decade, Colorado arrested Latinos for marijuana possession at 1.5 times the rate of whites, and arrested blacks at 3.1 times the rate of whites. But young blacks and Latinos use marijuana at lower rates than young whites.

— Latinos are 19% of the Colorado's residents, but they are 25% of the people arrested for marijuana possession. This is the first study to show arrests of Latinos in Colorado

— Police made 108,000 marijuana possession arrests in just the last ten years.

— African-Americans and Latinos are less than a quarter (23%) of Colorado's residents, they made up more than a third (35%) of the people arrested for marijuana possession.

— Marijuana possession arrests in Colorado rose sharply over the past 25 years, from 4,000 in 1986 to 10,500 in 2010, totaling 210,000 arrests.

"Marijuana possession arrests create permanent criminal records easily found on the internet by employers, landlords, schools, credit agencies, licensing boards, and banks," said Loren Siegel, co-director of the Marijuana Arrest Research Project, in the release. "A criminal record for the 'drug crime' of marijuana possession creates barriers to employment and education for anyone, including whites and the middle class."

Rosemary Harris Lytle, president of NAACP for Colorado, Montana and Wyoming, issued a statement in agreement.

"Marijuana prohibition is taking a toll on all Coloradans, and it is our communities of color that are paying the biggest price," she says. "Law enforcement resources should be used to address violent and otherwise harmful crimes. They should not be directed toward the enforcement of irrational marijuana laws that disproportionately impact African-Americans and other people of color. It is time for a more sensible approach.”

• Second, national advocacy organization Americans for Safe Access launched a website yesterday "that provides patients and their supporters with the tools they need to make informed decisions about the candidates in their districts," says the release.

Here's how they grade Colorado's delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives:

DeGette, Diana L. CO-1 Honor Roll
Polis, Jared CO-2 Honor Roll
Tipton, Scott CO-3 Fail
Gardner, Cory CO-4 Fail
Lamborn, Doug CO-5 Fail
Coffman, Michael CO-6 Fail
Perlmutter, Ed CO-7 Pass

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