Arrests drop, favor whites
Last week, the New York City-based Drug Policy Alliance released a 17-page report titled "Marijuana Arrests in Colorado After the Passage of Amendment 64" (tiny.cc/w6mbwx), which shows the amendment's implementation has predictably gutted the rate of marijuana arrests since 2010. Statewide, arrests for possession, cultivation and distribution have dropped almost 95 percent. However, arrests are still disproportionately high for black Coloradans, as they were before legalization.
The statewide marijuana arrest rate for white people in 2010 was 335 per 100,000 people. For black people, it was 851, a rate 2.4 times higher. In 2014, the arrest rate per 100,000 people for whites was 116, and 281 for blacks, a difference still 2.4 times higher.
In El Paso County, the area's 40,000 African-Americans have experienced a worse, and growing, disparity. In 2010, blacks were arrested for possession 2.5 times more than whites. By 2014, the difference was 3.3 times greater — 77 white arrests per 100,000 people versus 251 black arrests. Also, in regards to crimes related to public consumption, blacks are arrested in El Paso County at three times the rate of whites.
"The overall decrease in arrests, charges and cases is enormously beneficial to communities of color who bore the brunt of marijuana prohibition," the Associated Press quoted Rosemary Harris Lytle, president of the Colorado/Montana/Wyoming NAACP State Conference, as saying in a statement. "However, we are concerned with the rise in disparity for the charge of public consumption and challenge law enforcement to ensure this reality is not discriminatory in any manner."
Numbers were pulled from the Colorado Judicial Branch and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and do not include Latinos.
• Shortly after expanding into a neighboring space, 420 Speakeasy (1532 N. Circle Drive, 471-3398) is ready to unveil the latest: The Ganja Game Room. "It's starting to be a big hit," says owner Travis Perkins, who notes that entry is included with the monthly $50 membership fee. "We are actually the first marijuana-friendly arcade here in Colorado Springs." Expect pinball, air hockey and games like Hydro Thunder, Pac-Man and Crisis Zone.
• Last week, the state of Colorado responded to lawsuits filed with the Supreme Court by Nebraska and Oklahoma, calling each "an attempt to reach across their borders and selectively invalidate state laws with which they disagree," reports the Denver Post.
"Friday's brief is the first time Colorado officials have had to make a full-throated argument in favor of the state's marijuana legalization laws," John Ingold writes. "In doing so, the brief spends several pages noting states' lengthy history of trying to regulate marijuana, 'a product whose use is staggeringly widespread.' Nearly half of all states now have laws legalizing recreational or medical use of marijuana, the brief states."