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Data reveals racial disparity in drug arrests

The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland recently released a report with an analysis of all marijuana arrests in each county. By utilizing FBI and census data, the report shows that the number of arrests for marijuana possession in Maryland has increased by 24 percent from 2001 to 2010. There was also a racial component to this analysis of drug charges. According to the data, Maryland has one of the highest arrest rates for marijuana possession in the country.

Though the data showed an overall increase in the 2001-2010 period, the racial disparity increased as well. During that period, the number of arrests of black citizens increased by 5,614 and white arrests only increased by 371, despite the fact that there are comparable rates of marijuana use across both categories. Even without the racial element, the data is remarkable -- the report claims that one in 250 people in the state are arrested on marijuana possession charges, putting Maryland in fourth, per capita, for this type of arrest.

In Maryland, marijuana-related arrests make up more than 50 percent of the total drug arrests. Even possession of a small amount of marijuana can result in serious consequences under Maryland law, including the loss of student financial aid, employment difficulties and loss of child custody. With the racial disparity in question, it is important to consider that there may be legal discrimination issues at play within these arrests. An experienced criminal defense attorney can not only offer a vigorous defense of your rights, but also seek to learn if the arrest was made legally and constitutionally.

Source: The Baltimore News Journal, "ACLU report: In every Md. county, blacks more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession" No Author Given, Nov. 20, 2013

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