The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 6/4/13, 11:12 PM ET

Marijuana possession arrests and race

This is the targeting America should be worried about...not the so-called IRS story. In the Rewrite segment, MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell looks at why four...
This is the targeting America should be worried about...not the so-called IRS story. In the Rewrite segment, MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell looks at why four...

War on marijuana racially biased, new report suggests

Updated

As Tea Party-related groups call themselves the victims of IRS targeting, it’s important to remember that not one of these groups has yet been denied the tax exempt status for which they applied.

Meanwhile, a new report from the American Civil Liberties Union demonstrates that black Americans truly have been victimized in the war on marijuana.

The report, which tracked marijuana use and arrests in all 50 states, shows that though black Americans and white Americans smoke pot in almost equal amounts, black Americans are nearly four times as likely to get arrested for it. In Iowa, D.C., Minnesota, and Illinois, that number rises to 7.5-8.5 times more likely.

“Most of the people the police are arresting aren’t kingpins,” the ACLU report says, “but rather people with small amounts of pot.”

Getting busted can mean losing a job or benefits. It can harm one’s ability to get accepted to college. The final cost of a bust for possession often grossly outweighs the crime. What’s worse, taxpayers are spending billions of dollars to keep the war on marijuana alive.

“What we know…is that marijuana possession and marijuana use should not screw anyone’s life up in any way,” said msnbc’s Lawrence O’Donnell on the Rewrite Tuesday. “But in this country, where the president and so many other distinguished high achievers have proven that marijuana use is a perfectly normal rite of passage for young people and far less harmful in heavy usage than the legal killers alcohol and tobacco, we still have a marijuana arrest every 37 seconds, and the states spend over 3.6 billion dollars a year enforcing marijuana possession laws.”

War on marijuana racially biased, new report suggests

Updated