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Racially Biased Marijuana Enforcement Rates Still Occurring In Seattle

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seattle washington marijuana cannabis cup high timesPossessing up to one ounce of marijuana is legal in Seattle, Washington. However, consuming marijuana in public (any amount) is still prohibited. Most of the time when someone is caught consuming marijuana in public in Seattle, they get a warning. But not everyone is lucky enough to get off so easily. According to the Huffington Post, some groups are less likely to get a warning than others:

Officers issued 82 tickets for public possession and use between Jan. 1 and June 30, according to the report released Wednesday. Most of the citations were issued in public parks in the downtown core, where some homeless people hang out. One person was ticketed twice.

Almost all the people cited are men with an average age of 34. Although more than two-thirds of the people ticketed are younger than 40, people as old as 77 have been ticketed for marijuana infractions during the past six months.

About 36 percent of those ticketed were African-Americans, who are 8 percent of Seattle’s population according to the 2010 census. About 46 percent of those ticketed told police they lived in a homeless shelter, transitional housing or had addresses associated with homeless services.

Marijuana legalization was supposed to reduce, if not eliminate, racially biased marijuana enforcement. Marijuana consumption rates are similar among whites and blacks. So why is the percentage of blacks getting in trouble for public marijuana consumption 4.5 times higher than the percentage of population in Seattle? The ACLU led the fight to legalize marijuana in Washington, I hope they will now lead the fight to address this new issue.

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