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Despite legalization, people of color still disproportionately targeted for marijuana, new studies say

Marijuana legalization has been touted as one way to unravel the consequences of the war on drugs, but two new studies suggest that the communities most harmed by the nearly 50-year crusade — namely people of color — are not reaping the benefits.

Two reports, published by the American Civil Liberties Union and a team of researchers from Stanford University and New York University, respectively, analyzed different sets of police data and came to similar conclusions: despite legalization, minorities are still disproportionately searched and arrested for marijuana-related offenses.

The university researchers, who published their findings in the journal Nature: Human Behavior on May 8, looked at data from about 100 million traffic stops conducted by more than 50 state patrol agencies and municipal police departments across the country between 2011 and 2018.

They also analyzed data from Colorado and Washington, specifically, to gauge the effects of cannabis legalization.

The analysis found that police were less likely to conduct searches for contraband during traffic stops in states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use. Additionally, the portion of stops that resulted in either a drug-related infraction or misdemeanor fell substantially in Colorado and Washington after cannabis was legalized. [Read more at The Denver Post]

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