Even as the movement to legalize adult-use marijuana has grown in New Jersey, marijuana-related arrests have risen markedly, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey. In a data brief published on Friday, ACLU-NJ reported that 37,623 arrests for possession and distribution were made in 2017, a 35% increase over 2013 (27,923). In 2017, there were about 95 marijuana arrest a day in the Garden State, or one every 15 minutes; in 2013, there were 66 possession arrests daily, or one about every 21 minutes.
At the same time, it stated that racial disparities in arrest rates “haven’t budged.” Further, it highlighted the sharp disparities in arrests by race in some parts of the state. Black people in Hunterdon County were 11 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white people. In Ocean County, black people were arrested at seven times the rate for possession, and in Salem County, the disparity was six times the rate.
The data brief updated the ACLU-NJ’s 2017 report, “Unequal and Unfair: New Jersey’s War on Marijuana Users,” which made the case for legalization based on racial disparities in arrests and over-policing for marijuana possession.