Oct 18, 2022 - News

Chesterfield leads region in pot arrests as racial disparities continue

Illustration of a "no" symbol in the shape of a joint and a ring of smoke

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Police in Chesterfield have arrested more people for marijuana offenses than almost any other locality in the state since possession of the drug became legal, per a Washington Post analysis.

Why it matters: Black residents made up a majority of those arrests, accounting for over 70% of the cases.

  • The disparity was not as profound in all localities, such as Fairfax, where Black defendants represented closer to 30% of marijuana cases over the same time period, per the Post.

What's happening: When Virginia lawmakers voted to legalize marijuana, they said they wanted to address racial disparities in arrests.

  • But with legalization of retail sales stalled, the numbers show Black Virginians continue to account for a majority of arrests despite representing just 20% of the state's total population.

By the numbers: Chesterfield, the state's fifth most populous locality, made 110 marijuana arrests in the year after possession became legal — the second-highest number in the state behind Virginia Beach.

  • The majority of the charges were for selling the drug, which remains illegal, or underage possession, per the Post.

What they're saying: "It's well past time that we stand up a legal marketplace that allows adults to legally purchase, and until we do that, we'll still continue to see trends in disparate enforcement of cannabis crimes," State Sen. Adam Ebbin told the Post.


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