ACLU's new online tool "fights racial bias? in marijuana possession arrests

3/18/2014, 1:25 p.m.
NEW YORK – With the release of "The Uncovery", the American Civil Liberties Union said that it has put its ...

NEW YORK – With the release of "The Uncovery", the American Civil Liberties Union said that it has put its "devastating findings on racial injustice" and marijuana possession arrests into the hands of web users. In partnership with Interbrand, the ACLU has developed what it calls a simple, elegant online advocacy tool, a one-stop shop where users select their own facts, convert them into customized graphic messages, share them on social media, and send them to legislators – all in 60 seconds or less.

"The push for marijuana reform in this country, state by state, has never been stronger. 'The Uncovery' provides a fast and thorough way for anyone in any state to find local facts about racial injustice in marijuana possession arrests and bring them into the debate," said Ezekiel Edwards, director of the ACLU's Criminal Law Reform Project and lead author of 'The War on Marijuana in Black and White'. "This is critical to effecting real and lasting change in marijuana laws."

"The Uncovery" is built from data from the War on Marijuana report and allows users to see the racial breakdown of arrests for marijuana possession in their own states. In Pennsylvania, for instance, a black person is 5.19 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than a white person. Nationwide, that figure is 3.73.

More than half of all drug arrests in 2010 were for marijuana.

"With 'The Uncovery', statistics about marijuana possession arrests become powerful statements," said Edwards. "An arrest can bring life-changing consequences for the individual, like loss of employment, loss of student financial aid, and worse. No one should have to bear those burdens for possession of a drug we know to be less harmful than alcohol."

In addition to racial disparities in arrests, "The Uncovery" offers users dollar figures for government spending on marijuana. For example, the U.S. spent an estimated total of $3.61 billion in 2010 on the enforcement of marijuana laws. "The Uncovery" breaks this figure down by state, giving users another argument for marijuana reform.