Report: People of Color Still Bear the Brunt of Marijuana Enforcement in San Diego

California has made great strides in reversing the disparate impacts of marijuana prohibition. But in places like San Diego, data show that people of color still make up a disproportionate amount of marijuana-related arrests and prosecution.

That’s according to Voice of San Diego which recently analyzed figures from the San Diego Association of Governments.

Since 2017, marijuana arrests have fallen. But where citations have occurred, a concerning picture has emerged.

About 30 percent of the city identifies as Hispanic or Latino, but Latinos made up nearly half of all juvenile citations for marijuana between January 2017 and October 2019. Black San Diegans represent 5.5 percent of the city’s population but accounted for 16 percent of all juvenile citations and 29 percent of all adult arrests.

White residents, at the same time, represent 44 percent of the city, but accounted for 34 percent of adult arrests and 25 percent of juvenile citations.

San Diego Police Department Spokesperson Lt. Shawn Takeuchi deferred questions about juvenile arrests to the San Diego Unified School District.

San Diego Unified’s own demographic data more closely resembles the juvenile citation stats compiled by SANDAG. White children make up nearly a quarter of the student population while Latinos make up nearly half. Black students account for about 8 percent.

In addition to Voice of San Diego’s reporting, NBC San Diego has analyzed city attorney data since 2013. It has determined that African Americans are five times more likely to faced prosecution for minor drug crimes then whites and Hispanics. 



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