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Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Arrests for Drug Possession After California Proposition 47, 2011–2016

Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Arrests for Drug Possession After California Proposition 47, 2011–2016

Originally posted in the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH).

The American Journal of Public Health (AJPHhighlights key research by CJCJ's Mike Males and Lizzie Buchen, which examines five states following the passage of marijuana reform policies.


From the publication:

Prop 47 led to substantially fewer drug arrests across all racial/ethnic groups. There was little indication of elevated drug arrest rates in Latinos compared with Whites before or after Prop 47, whereas the large absolute Black–White difference in felony drug arrest rates was reduced. With a higher proportion of felony drug offenses affected by Prop 47 (i.e., possession), Whites had the greatest proportional decline in drug felonies, contributing to an increase in the relative Black–White disparity. Prop 47 appears to have led to reductions in arrests for drug offenses overall (misdemeanor and felony) for which there was a decrease in the absolute Black–White difference, whereas relative disparities remained the same.

There has been little study of the impacts of reducing offense severity on racial/ethnic disparities in criminal justice involvement. In 1 exception, researchers found that reforming marijuana laws reduced arrests across all racial/ethnic groups and that there was no change in relative disparities between Blacks and other racial/ethnic groups.23This aligns with our finding on Prop 47’s effect on total drug arrests, although we found increases in relative disparities for felonies.

Read the full publication on the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH>>


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Keywords: Lizzie Buchen, marijuana reform, Mike Males, racial disparities

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