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Alabama Appleseed Center Releases New Marijuana Report

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A new report released by the Alabama Appleseed Center for Law and Justice and the Southern Poverty Law Center shows that African Americans are four times more likely than Caucasians to be arrested for marijuana possession. In 2016, there were 2,351 arrests statewide. Analysis of available data shows that 11 out of every 10,000 African American people in the state are arrested for marijuana possession.

When it comes to Caucasians, only 2.7 per 10,000 were arrested for the same possession charge, the Birmingham Times reports.  In comparison to other types of arrests in the state – marijuana possession tops the list of racially disproportionate arrests. Those arrests are also shown to be concentrated to just a few areas of the state as well.

There were 7 police departments that appear to be 10 times more likely to arrest an African American for marijuana possession.

A marijuana possession conviction in Alabama can result in:

  • A 6-month license suspension
  • Fines
  • Jail time
  • Probation
  • Court fees
  • Loss of student loans
  • Difficulty finding employment/residency

The Jefferson County District Attorney’s office vows to follow the rule of the Legislature. It will continue to prosecute marijuana possession cases until the state law changes.

Interim District Attorney Mike Anderton said, “We prosecute those cases that the legislature designates as criminal offenses. If the legislature passes it, like I said before, if they pass it, we’re going to enforce it, we’re going to do it right and we’re going to follow what the law says.”

Having so many marijuana possession arrests occurring the state is clogging up other systems, such as processing forensic evidence. There are some 10,000 marijuana cases that are backlogged in the state.

It’s unknown whether reform legislation will be introduced in the 2019 Legislative session in Alabama.