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Study: Over 200,000 Marijuana Arrests In Colorado Over Past 25 Years

In the 25 years from 1986 to 2010, police and sheriffs’ departments in Colorado made 210,000 arrests for the crime of possessing small amounts of marijuana, according to a report released today by the Marijuana Arrest Research Project.

The study finds that cannabis arrests have risen sharply in the state, from 4,000 in 1986 to 10,500 in 2010, and that young people are most likely to among those arrested. According to the report, eighty-six percent of those arrested for cannabis offenses were age 34 or younger; 79 percent were 29 or younger, and 69 percent were 24 or younger.

The report also finds that African Americans and Latinos are arrested at greater rates than Caucasians despite being less likely to consume cannabis. African Americans residing in Colorado are arrested at three times the rate of whites, while Latinos are arrested at 1.5 times the rate of whites. The report is first study to document arrest rates of Latinos in Colorado.

Proponents of Amendment 64, The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act of 2012, believe that the arrest data emphasizes the need for passing the measure this November. If approved, A-64 would immediately amend state law to allow for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and/or the cultivation of up to six cannabis plants by adults.

According to the latest statewide polling data, 48 percent of Colorado voters support A-64. Forty-three percent of likely voters oppose the initiative and nine percent are undecided. Women voters oppose A-64 by a margin of 48 percent to 40 percent. NORML and the NORML Women’s Alliance are coordinating phone banking efforts in support of the Campaign here.

A separate report by the Project, released earlier this month, similarly found that police in Washington are arresting marijuana offenders in increasing numbers. That report found that law enforcement have made over 241,000 arrests for cannabis offenses in the past 25 years. Blacks in Washington state were arrested for marijuana possession at more than twice the rate of whites. Latinos were arrested at rates more than 50 percent higher than whites, the report found.

Washington state voters will decide in November on I-502, which seeks to regulate the production and sale of limited amounts of marijuana for adults. The measure also removes criminal penalties specific to the adult possession of up to one ounce of cannabis for personal use. In the latest polling, I-502 leads by a margin of 54 percent to 38 percent.

Learn more about marijuana in the 2012 election by reading NORML’s voter guide, Smoke the Vote.

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