Marijuana Arrests on Rise in Va. 
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Marijuana Arrests on Rise in Va. 
Posted by CN Staff on November 26, 2015 at 15:44:45 PT
By Tom Jackman
Source: Washington Post
Virginia -- While the trend in much of the United States is moving toward decriminalization or legalization of marijuana, Virginia is heading in the opposite direction: sharply rising arrest totals for possession of pot, and a disproportionate number of black people arrested in the commonwealth, according to a new study based on state data reported to the FBI.Though marijuana arrests dropped 6.5 percent nationwide between 2003 and 2014, possession arrests in Virginia increased by 76 percent in the same period, according to research by the Drug Policy Alliance in New York. And arrests of black people in Virginia for marijuana increased by 106 percent from 2003 to 2013, accounting for 47 percent of the state’s arrests though Virginia’s population is only 20 percent black.
The statistics were compiled by Jon Gettman, a public policy professor at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Va., and follow his national marijuana arrest analysis for the American Civil Liberties Union in 2013. That study showed that black people were 3.7 times more likely to be arrested than whites for marijuana nationwide, and that 88 percent of the country’s arrests were for marijuana possession.The disparity in the District — black people were eight times more likely to be arrested for simple possession than whites — helped drive the D.C. city council to decriminalize marijuana in 2013, followed by voters legalizing pot in 2014. Twenty states have now decriminalized marijuana by reducing or eliminating penalties for minor offenses, and four states and the District have legalized it.At present, Virginia is heading the other way,Gettman’s study shows: the ratio of black-to-white marijuana arrests was 2.4 to 1 in 2003, but in 2013 it was 3.3 to 1. In the three years from 2011 to 2013, annual possession arrests by Virginia law enforcement went up by about 2,000 per year, and black Virginians accounted for 82 percent of the increase.Virginia Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran said he had not reviewed the specific data from the report, but said “there is no argument that minorities are statistically overrepresented in many aspects of our justice system and that the causes are complex.” Moran said the administration of Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) “is dedicated to understanding and addressing these disparities in the adult and juvenile systems” by implementing programs such as evidence-based decision-making for police agencies in six communities; launching a “Classrooms not Courtrooms” initiative that addresses “disproportionate minority contact;” and partnering with the attorney general’s office “to develop new training curricula that enhance effective community engagement.”Misdemeanor pot arrests “needlessly ensnare people in the criminal justice system,” said Claire Gastaòaga, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia. “That limits their ability to get a job, financial aid, child custody. There’s a mandatory six-month driver’s license revocation, then they can’t keep their job, can’t pay child support, then you have a bunch of people in jail because they’re poor. That’s the big picture.”The collateral impact of misdemeanor drug arrests was another factor in the District’s move to decriminalize pot. Virginia state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) filed a bill last year in the General Assembly to reduce the fine from a maximum of $500 to a civil penalty of no more than $100 and to eliminate the 30-day maximum jail time. It did not emerge from its committee this year.Ebbin cited a statistic from the ACLU’s report which estimated that Virginia spent $67.2 million in 2010 on enforcing marijuana laws. “That’s $67 million that could be helping people,” Ebbin said. “Our laws are antiquated. And it’s doubly troubling when you see the disparity with regards to people of color. We don’t give people of color an easy path to start with. Giving them a high bar in a way that looks like they are targeted is really awful.”Virginia law enforcement authorities, however, still see marijuana as a dangerous drug and are not inclined to reduce enforcement. Dana Schrad, executive director of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, said state police officials are “closely watching the outcomes in Colorado and Washington state to monitor how their legal reforms have impacted the quality of life in those states. We’re also very interested in the impact of the District’s reforms on northern Virginia.”She said members of the Central Virginia Marijuana Task Force still consider marijuana a “gateway drug” to other narcotics, and that they had met recently with Moran “just to put our concerns about legalization efforts on his radar.” Police are particularly concerned, Schrad said, with the impact of marijuana on the work environment, especially public safety workers and commercial truck drivers, since there is “no ability to field test how ‘high’ a person is on marijuana and how much that impairs the ability to drive.”Lindsey Lawson Battaglia, a former Fairfax criminal defense attorney with years of experience defending marijuana clients, recently joined the Drug Policy Alliance. She said Gettman’s data confirmed what she had seen in the Fairfax courthouse, that massive marijuana arrests “are ineffective. We can tell from Gettman’s study that marijuana use isn’t going down” — Gettman cited surveys that found marijuana use rising in Virginia — “so we have a failed policy, and it’s expensive.”Battaglia said the racial disparities in pot arrests are not unique to Virginia, “but if you care about justice and you care about fairness, this isn’t acceptable.” She noted that 45 percent of Arlington’s pot arrests in 2013 were black people, though they comprise only nine percent of Arlington’s population.“Across the U.S., people of color are overrepresented at every stage of the criminal justice process,” Battaglia said. “That is an implicit bias that we hope we as a country will deal with some day.”Tom Jackman is a native of Northern Virginia and has been covering the region for The Post since 1998.Source: Washington Post (DC)Author:   Tom JackmanPublished: Novenber 26, 2015Copyright: 2015 Washington Post CompanyContact: letters Website: URL:  -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #5 posted by John Tyler on November 29, 2015 at 07:57:03 PT
It is called RACISM
“There is no argument that minorities are statistically overrepresented in many aspects of our justice system and that the causes are complex.” Let me give them a clue. It is called RACISM. There is also a money component. The poor and minorities groups are preyed upon and exploited by the police and the courts. They are arrested, harassed, fined and court feed. If they cannot pay their fines and fees they get other charges and more fees piled on and possibly even more arrests, because now they are in trouble with the court. It may sound so legal and equal, until you get on the receiving end of it. Arrests, tickets, fines, and court fees are local government sources of revenue. Plus, it is a legal way to keep the poor oppressed. If you get a felony conviction you can lose your driver’s license, and or professional licenses, you can be denied a student loan, you can be denied public housing, even if you live with someone else. It is more difficult to get a job, and you lose your right to vote. Once you get caught in this trap it is difficult to escape, then you are vilified for being lazy and no good. It is an old business model and it goes on everywhere. The Drug War was quick way to get these people on this one way street down. It is time to change it. 
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Comment #4 posted by The GCW on November 27, 2015 at 07:51:51 PT
Dangerous RE-pubs lurking.
Trump Asks His Supporters to Report on Their Neighbors: 'Most Likely You'll Be Wrong, But That's OK' is no such thing as an acceptable republican presidential nominee.
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Comment #3 posted by Oleg the Tumor on November 27, 2015 at 06:56:21 PT
… the arms come closer in towards the body.We are witnessing in places like Virginia and in personages like Gov. Christie the angular momentum of the last dance, a Tarentell one could term it, of a dysfunctional system that wishes to exclude the sensibilities of using agricultural products to replace petroleum, its mess, expense and political clout.We get the word "tarantula" (for the spider) from this Italian word. The tarentell, as the old story goes, refers to the death throes one experiences after being bitten, presumably by this spider. It's probably an old wives tale, but it is a good analogy for this story.I hate it when they use that term "other narcotics" in connection to Cannabis, which is NOT a narcotic. A narcotic can cause death by overdose. Cannabis does not.
If cannabis is a narcotic, then religion must be an opiate, as Karl Marx said.The Republican bandwagon, having rolled past it's "dumpster fire" stage, is now beginning to closely resemble a "self-inflicted bar fight."So much for the party of Abraham Lincoln.If he were alive today, he'd probably want to take in a play.
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Comment #2 posted by SoupHerb on November 27, 2015 at 04:29:20 PT:
For the first time in my life I drove by a road block set up by the Maryland State Police in Andy Harris' district, get this, for drug checking!!! No lie. It was the day before Thanksgiving and my eyes are starting to go so I was taken back when I read the sign "Drug Checkpoint Ahead". Immediately I was thinking of how this must have been one of the tactics used in pre wwII know to find all the bad people. A checkpoint on a main artery right off of interstate 95 the most traveled road in the history of man. I am still in shock to have no answer for this kind of wasting/spending of taxpayer funds. 
Simply put any drug use is personal and drug abuse is a mental, who in their right mind would put up a military style road block to check for "mental disorders".
This kind of behavior is evidence of very desperate government making very poor choices against the wishes of the people they serve. Not to mention the huge waste of funds...
I sorry the government is this messed up...
I have never seen a drug checkpoint in my life and I'm 60.
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Comment #1 posted by The GCW on November 26, 2015 at 19:50:49 PT
N.J. also
Also in Christie land:US NJ: Marijuana Possession Arrests On Rise In NJ NJ: In N.J., Marijuana Arrests Increasing"Nationwide, the Numbers Have Dropped. Some Critics Point to a Crackdown Spurred by Governor."Short circuit. Can You actually believe this embarrASSment is running for Office? In+, running mates are a serious international threat to distasteful jokes. That they even have a chance is alarming like You wouldn't believe! REpub's are a plague. Quarantine.
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