And while studies show that marijuana use is equally prevalent among Blacks and Whites, 84 percent of more than 900 people arrested for public consumption in the nation’s capital were African American in the four years after legalization.
A D.C. police spokeswoman declined to comment on the disparity, noting that arrests for consumption or possession of small amounts of marijuana have declined significantly since legalization.
But advocates and defense attorneys said police still focus on the city’s poorer, mostly Black neighborhoods because that’s where officer deployments and investigations of violent crime are concentrated.
Marijuana-related arrests, they said, are an entree for police to gather information about other alleged crimes.
“They can use the odor of burning marijuana or street sales to pat people down for weapons or check for outstanding warrants,” said Paul Zukerberg, a defense lawyer who has represented clients arrested on pot charges. “They try to turn…