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Uneven Enforcement of Marijuana Laws and Racial Disparity


A report last year by the American Civil Liberties Union tried to shed light on how the nation’s marijuana laws were being enforced differently, depending on demographic group.

That report came amid a changing climate in many parts of the country regarding the legalization or decriminalization of marijuana.

In Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service examined disparities in marijuana law enforcement in the state’s major population centers.

"Its turning out felons, and its doing it in an uneven way...The laws are on the book for everyone, but as study after study has shown its impacting African Americans more, and especially in the city of Milwaukee," says Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service reporter Edgar Mendez.

The rate of marijuana arrests in the African American community has led to obvious racial disparity in incarceration.  In Wisconsin, a felony can often lead to a life in poverty. Once convicted of a felony, jobs are increasingly harder to secure and the chances of going back to prison increase.

Currently, local legislators are making efforts to decriminalize marijuana possession in order to make a lasting impact on securing the future of the state's major population centers.

You can read Edgar Mendez's special report for the Milwaukee Neighborhood New Service on marijuana laws and how they are enforced in Wisconsin here.

Audrey is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.
Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, or NNS, is an online source for objective, professional multimedia reporting on issues in 18 central city Milwaukee communities.