Marijuana Problem in Texas

According to a report by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), marijuana appears to be the primary drug of choice among police departments in the United States. Moreover, this has led to severe consequences for several communities of color in Texas. In fact, Texas is second in terms of the most number of arrests for illegal possession of marijuana. Thus, this seems to have wasted about $300 million in the state's taxpayer money because of the apparent failure of the "War on Drugs". To make things worse, marijuana enforcement has served as a vehicle for law enforcement officers to target several communities of color.

In the ACLU report, whites and blacks use marijuana at nearly equal rates, although blacks are more likely to be arrested due to marijuana possession. Based on statistics, the high percentage of marijuana arrests over the last decade is caused by the increase in arrests of blacks in Texas. From 1995 to 2010, there is an increase of 51 percent in the total number of marijuana arrests in the United States. In 2010, about 12 percent of the population in Texas is made up of blacks, and over a quarter of arrests for illegal possession of marijuana is accounted for this group of people.

Houston and Dallas are among the counties in Texas that are considered as the worst-offending in terms of racial disparity in illegal marijuana possession. Furthermore, in counties with high disparities in marijuana possession arrests by rate, blacks are usually arrested, as compared to whites.

Marijuana Offenses in Texas

In 2007, there were more than 70,000 arrests for illegal possession of marijuana in Texas, which ranks it at number 21 in the country. Additionally, there were about 1,486,000 marijuana users in Texas during that same year. In terms of total severity of the consequences for illegal possession of marijuana, Texas ranks 32nd in the country. On the other hand, Texas is at number 5 based on the penalties given to offenders who possess less than one ounce of marijuana, although it is important to note that there are only 12 ranks in this particular category.

About 97 percent of marijuana arrests in Texas during 2007 were due to marijuana possession. In 2007, there were over 68,000 arrests in Texas, and a total of 1,700 arrests due to marijuana sales. There was also an arrest rate of 288 per 100,000 individuals in 2007 because of marijuana possession, while the arrest rate for selling marijuana was only 7. In addition, 48 percent of drug arrests in the state is linked with marijuana possession, based on the 2007 statistics.

The problem in marijuana possession and arrests in Texas continue to increase, with a rate of about 6.19 percent annually. Aside from the rates of arrests, the number of marijuana users in the state also increases. In 2003,there were about 1,482,000 users in Texas, and this number has led to 1,486,000 in 2007. Thus, it is estimated that there is an increase of 0.05 percent annually when it comes to the number of marijuana users in the state.

Because of the marijuana problem in Texas, law enforcement officers are facing serious challenges in controlling this alarming issue in the state.