Disproportionate Marijuana Arrests of Black and Indigenous People Must Stop
As part of a two-part series published last week, The Toronto Star obtained Toronto Police data, which breaks down arrests by neighbourhood and shows disproportionate numbers for Black people when it comes to pot possession charges. Falconers LLP lawyer, Anthony Morgan, called the statistics “another example of the failed war on drugs.”
Black people with no history of criminal convictions have been three times more likely to be arrested by Toronto police for possession of small amounts of marijuana than white people with similar backgrounds, according to a Toronto Star analysis. They’ve also been more likely to be detained for bail. The disparity is largely due to targeting of Black people by Toronto police, according to criminologists and defence lawyers interviewed by the Star, who note that surveys show little difference in marijuana use between Black and white people.
As Canada moves toward the legalization of marijuana, the Star examined 10 years’ worth of Toronto Police Service marijuana arrest and charge data, obtained in a freedom-of-information request.
From 2003 to 2013, Toronto police arrested 11,299 people whose skin colour was noted — and who had no prior convictions — for possessing up to 30 grams of marijuana. These individuals were not on parole or probation when arrested. Morgan also stated that the federal government should set up an “active mechanism” to remove charges related to marijuana possession, post-legalization.
In The News
Toronto marijuana arrests reveal ‘startling’ racial divide Toronto Star, July 6, 2017
‘The reality of racism’. TPS data on marijuana arrests reveals stark racial divide Metro News, July 6, 2017
27,000 Torontonians were arrested for marijuana possession in a decade. What will happen to them? Toronto Star, July 7, 2017