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ACLU seeking marijuana law reform

June 4, 2013 at 4:08 PM

WASHINGTON, June 4 (UPI) -- The American Civil Liberties Union is calling on the federal government and law enforcement to end what it termed "the failed War on Marijuana."

Citing a report the group released Tuesday, the ACLU says police made more than 8 million marijuana arrests from 2001 to 2010, more than half of all drug-related arrests. About 90 percent were for marijuana possession, not consumption, the report notes. The cost of prosecuting marijuana arrests over the next six years will cost American courts $20 billion, the ACLU says.

Ezekiel Edwards of the ACLU's Criminal Law Reform Project, said arrest statistics also reveal a racial bias. Though marijuana use is roughly the same among whites and blacks, blacks are 3.7 times more likely to be arrested for it, Edwards said.

"The aggressive enforcement of marijuana possession laws needlessly mires hundreds of thousands of people in the criminal justice system, crowds our jails, wastes billions of taxpayers' dollars, fails to reduce marijuana use and availability, diverts precious police resources away from solving serious crimes, and is carried out with staggering racial bias," Edwards said. "It's clearly time to end the failed War on Marijuana."

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