San Diego Minorities Unjustly Targeted By Police For Cannabis-Related Crimes

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Contributor: KC SCANNELL

California has always been known to be a marijuana-friendly state. It’s been that way for decades. And even though it was a bit of an uphill battle at times, this West Coast haven eventually legalized cannabis – first for medicinal purposes only, and later for anyone over the age of 21 to enjoy in a recreational sense. It’s basically been nothing but positives when speaking about California and its relationship with marijuana.

Minorities In San Diego Unjustly Targeted By Police For Marijuana-Related Charges

San Diego Minorities Unjustly Targeted By Police For Cannabis-Related Crimes (1)

But everything isn’t always as “perfect” as it seems. Just because a state has legalized the use of cannabis, doesn’t mean every single negative stigma surrounding it has been abolished. In fact, the few regulations governing marijuana that remain are hit harder than ever. And, sadly, whenever the subject of law enforcement is brought up in this country, it’s just as quickly followed by the topic of overt racism.

This is not a new notion, by any means. The links between police and racism have been glaringly apparent for eons, it seems. And the numbers prove it. Minorities are routinely targeted and oppressed by racist law enforcement agents, who’d rather live out some sort of bigoted fantasy than uphold the law, like they swore to do.



It’s all tremendously disgusting and nauseating to think about, but, unfortunately, that’s just the world we live in. So, it’s better that we stare at this problem head-on, as opposed to turning a blind eye to it. That will, in fact, be the only way to solve such a growing issue.

In San Diego, there seems to be an obvious issue with racism concerning their local law enforcement agents. Such a claim isn’t made broadly or based on speculation. Quite the contrary, there’s a wealth of facts out there that would support just such a statement, and it’s imperative that these numbers become public knowledge. Hopefully, the more people who learn about the consistent wrongdoings of San Diego police officers can help bring about some form of change. But I suppose only time will tell when it comes to that, right?

As I alluded to above, just because a state legalizes cannabis, doesn’t mean everything transforms into a lawless Wild West of marijuana. There’s still plenty of laws surrounding cannabis. Most of them deal with possession amounts, location of grow operations, and various things of this nature. However, while the average person is still aware of these laws, there are a surprisingly high number of citizens who feel like they can do anything they want since California approved legalization a few years ago.

That just simply isn’t the case.



San Diego has a rich culture. One built on diversity and acceptance. However, the local law enforcement agents aren’t living up to those prestigious standards. To break down the population of this beautiful Southern California city, the racial makeup of San Diego is 44% White, roughly 30% Latino or Hispanic, and 5.5% African American.

However, in three years of data collected by the San Diego Association of Governments, the arrest and crime records for these races, when charged with a cannabis-related crime, don’t reflect those same proportions. Which, I understand, sounds vague. So, allow me to give you some more numbers.

Before I do, it should be known that the majority of these arrests and whatnot are involving citizens who are under 18.

White San Diegans made up only 25% of juvenile-related charges and around 34% of the adult ones. African Americans, in the very same area, made up for 29% of adult arrests and 16% of juvenile-related charges. And the Latino/Hispanic community, even though they only make up for a third of the population, account for almost 50% of juvenile-related charges.

If you haven’t guessed already, those numbers just don’t add up. Something’s going on here.

Looking deeper into the data, it becomes apparent that the main juvenile charge that was routinely handed out to these kids was possession on school grounds. Which, by all accounts, is an understandable thing to get in trouble for. They shouldn’t be smoking cannabis at school. But this is still suspicious.

The San Diego Police Department doesn’t have juvenile officers patrolling various school grounds in the district. The only way they would be able to make any sort of arrest or charge is if a teacher or staff member formally called the police to handle the situation. So, perhaps there’s even a little lack of responsibility on the teacher (or staff member) in this case.

As the authority figures there, teachers should be able to diffuse the situation without involving the police. Similarly, police seem to be eager to hand out tickets and citations, as opposed to warnings. It seems like they save those for all the white children they encounter.

Also, when you pull back on the topic a bit further and look at the map of arrests, it becomes clear that certain neighborhoods are hit with marijuana law enforcement more than others. Which is just proof that police officers are targeting these specific areas, and essentially, just looking for someone to arrest. They aren’t reporting to locations after being called, they are patrolling these specific regions, and it stands to reason that they have a racial motivation to do so.

While they are skilled in talking around the data and making various excuses for the evidence that sits before them, the fact remains that a racial factor is playing a major part in these arrests. And even though the overall number of these charges has decreased since legalization was passed, it still highlights a major blemish on the record (and character) of the San Diego Police Department.

To be even more honest, I couldn’t think of a bigger waste of time than going out of your way to bust someone for cannabis. I agree with the basics: don’t smoke in public, don’t smoke at school, follow the possession limits, and whatnot. But, when you stumble across a teen quietly firing up a bowl between classes, that isn’t the time to punish them. That’s the time to educate them.

Help them learn about the ramifications of such a poor decision while understanding that, at the end of the day, marijuana is just medicine. And some people rely on it to live a more comfortable, stress-free life. There’s no violent or ill-intent with such a person. A warning would do far more good as a “slap on the wrist” for them than an arrest would.

That route just seems senseless and unnecessary. This leads one to wonder what would make someone chose that technique when dealing with just such a scenario.

And while there could be a number of different reasons for a police officer to do that, one of the main possibilities has, and always will be, racism. It’s just a fact. But, if we continue to educate the public about this, the chances of this hurtful trend coming to an end go up tenfold.

At the end of the day, the numbers don’t lie. There’s a problem going on in San Diego, and it reeks of racism. Hopefully, the people in charge can properly attack this issue head-on, and they need to do it soon – before any more innocent youths are subjected to these badge-wearing bigots.




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