City arrest data on cannabis cases was presented at a Dallas City Council meeting August 13, but sadly it appears that Dallas, Texas police are disproportionately targeting people of color. While black and white Americans consume cannabis at similar rates, according to the Brookings Institute, black Americans are much more likely to be arrested for cannabis crimes—especially in Dallas.
Between Dec. 1, 2017 and the end of June, 1,544 cannabis possession cases were recorded. Of those cases, 65 percent were black, 26 percent were Latino and only nine percent were white.
Last December, Dallas’ “cite and release” policy took effect, which reduces the punishment for possession of cannabis, but only 65 of the city’s 1,544 possession cases were eligible. In order to be eligible, the person must be a resident of Dallas County, they must have a state ID and they must have no outstanding warrants or other convictions. Under the policy, people who are caught with four ounces of cannabis or less can walk away without serving any jail time.
The cite and release policy rates were even more troubling. Of the 65 citations during the same time period, 54 percent were issued to black residents, 35 percent to Latino residents and eight percent to white residents.
Dallas City Council member Philip Kingston was vocally adamant that the data does not sit well. “It still appears to be the case that marijuana is legal in Dallas County if you’re white, but not if you’re Latino or black,” Kingston said.
Chief U. Reneé Hall was equally concerned, but pointed out that police almost only respond when they are called. But according to the same body of data, “29 percent of citations were made after a 911 call, 23 percent were made stopping a pedestrian and 48 percent were made at a traffic stop,” reports Kera News.
It’s unclear why minority residents are being targeted by Dallas police, but it is clear that it needs to stop.