Marijuana is slowly being decriminalized around the country and Chicago is seeing a reduction in arrests but one issue remains.
African Americans are still the main ones targeted and being hauled off to jail, according to a Chicago Sun-Times analysis.
According to The Chicago Sun-Times, last year Chicago police officers made 129 arrests and there were less than 300 tickets issued for possession of small amounts of cannabis.
In 2011, there were more than 21,000, according to arrest data examined by the Sun-Times – showing a major shift in policing efforts in the troubled city.
While the city council voted to decriminalize possessing small amounts of marijuana the Sun-Times found African-Americans were still arrested on such charges more than members of other racial groups.
“I’m pleased to see the police are arresting fewer people,” says Kathie Kane-Willis, a drug policy researcher who is director of policy and advocacy for the Chicago Urban League.
“It’s unfortunate that African-Americans remain criminalized for these activities out of proportion to their population.”
According to the report, in 2017 and the first four months of 2018, 94 people were busted in Chicago for petty marijuana possession. Seventy-six of them were black. Sixteen were Hispanic. Two were white.
Police are still arresting people a disproportionate amount of color – just at lower numbers.
Kane-Willis said, “I am a little surprised by it.”
“Going after low-level marijuana offenders is not part of our strategy,” according to police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi.
When police Supt. Eddie Johnson asked about the racial disparities in cannabis arrests, he said more blacks are being arrested because, “as a law enforcement agency, we go where the data tells us to go. The South Side and the West Side, which are primarily African-American, have more open-air drug markets.”