Pubdate: Mon, 17 Jun 2013
Source: Des Moines Register (IA)
Copyright: 2013 The Des Moines Register
Author: William Petroski



Gov. Terry Branstad said Monday he thinks state officials should 
review the fact that black Iowans are arrested eight times more often 
than white Iowans for marijuana possession, but he doesn't believe 
the solution is to legalize pot.

The governor was asked about the racial disparity for marijuana 
arrests in Iowa in the wake of a report released earlier this month 
by the American Civil Liberties Union. The research , based on FBI 
data, found that Iowa has the worst racial disparity in the nation 
for marijuana arrests, even though whites and blacks smoke marijuana 
at about the same rates. The study, titled, Marijuana in Black and 
White: Billions of Dollars Wasted on Racially Biased Arrests, 
recommends legalization of marijuana as the smartest and surest way 
to end racially biased enforcement. Branstad made it clear Monday 
during his weekly Iowa Statehouse news briefing that he won't support 
the legalization of marijuana for Iowa residents.

"I think that is a little bit of a killing of an ant with a 
sledgehammer," Branstad said. "I think if you look at the states that 
have gone that way in terms of legalizing marijuana, that has not 
been something that has been helpful. Colorado is running into a lot 
of problems."

The governor added, "I believe that we do need to review the 
situation with regards to the fact that you have higher arrest rates 
for African Americans, and address that issue. But I don't think that 
legalizing marijuana is the answer."

Iowa has had a racial disparity for many types of crimes for decades. 
Blacks make up 3.1 percent of Iowa's population, according to the 
U.S. Census Bureau. But blacks represent 26 percent of Iowa's prison population.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom