Austin, TX: African Americans comprise nearly one-third of all Texans arrested for marijuana possession offenses, despite comprising only 13 percent of the state’s total population, according to an analysis of state arrest data compiled by Texas NORML.
Since 2017, just over 30 percent of those arrested for possessing cannabis in Texas were Black. By comparison, Whites comprise 41 percent of the state’s population, but only 30 percent of possession arrests.
Overall, Texas police made an estimated 219,000 marijuana-related arrests between 2017 and 2021. Ninety-seven percent of those arrested were charged with possession only. Fifty-six percent of those arrested were under 25 years of age.
“Minor marijuana possession offenders, many of them young people, should not be saddled with a criminal record and the lifelong penalties and stigma associated with it,” said Jax James, Executive Director of Texas NORML.
A 2020 analysis of marijuana arrest data by the American Civil Liberties Union, concluded, “Black people are 3.64 times more likely than white people to be arrested for marijuana possession, notwithstanding comparable usage rates.” Authors reported, “In every single state, Black people were more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession, and in some states, Black people were up to six, eight, or almost ten times more likely to be arrested. In 31 states, racial disparities were actually larger in 2018 than they were in 2010.”
Since 2017, total marijuana possession arrests have decreased in Texas year over year. However, Black people now comprise a greater percentage of those arrested than in the past.