Both groups saw big drops in marijuana arrests, but large racial disparities remain.

Marijuana legalization does a lot of things, but one thing it doesn’t do is stop racial disparities in the criminal justice system — even with marijuana arrests.

In a recent report by the Drug Policy Alliance, the pro-legalization group documented the effects of marijuana legalization in several states. As expected, marijuana arrests are down dramatically in legal pot states. But arrests remain for, say, possession by people who are under the legal age of 21, unlicensed sales, and public consumption.

A chart of marijuana arrests in states that legalized marijuana.
Drug Policy Alliance

Things get a little more complicated, though, when you break the data down by race. Arrests have declined for all racial groups since legalization. But that hasn’t halted racial disparities.

Both black and white people are much less likely to be arrested over marijuana, but black people are still much more likely to be arrested for pot in comparison to white people.

Alaska legalized marijuana in 2014, although it did not start sales until 2016. In the state, white and black arrest rates fell by nearly 99 percent and more than 93 percent, respectively, between 2012 and 2016. But black people were arrested for marijuana at a rate of 17.7 per 100,000 in 2016, while white people were arrested at a rate of 1.8 per 100,000 — about 10 times less.

A chart of marijuana arrests by race in Alaska.
Drug Policy Alliance

Washington, DC, decriminalized marijuana in 2014, then legalized possession and growing but not sales in a voter-approved Read More Here