Recent studies indicate that African Americans in the San Francisco area charged with drug-related crimes experience an arrest rate more than 19 times higher than any other ethnicity in the area and 7.3 times higher than African Americans throughout the state at large. Why is this the case?
For one thing, this an important statistic to investigate, considering that prior to January 1, 2011, possession of one ounce (28.5 mg) of marijuana was considered a misdemeanor, with convictions under this law expunged from a person’s record after 2 years (CA Health & Safety Code, § 11361.5 & 11361.7). As of January 1, 2011, this same offense is considered an infraction, carrying no criminal record and a maximum fine of $100.00
There are, in fact, six sections of the California Health and Safety Code that deal with marijuana. §11357 deals with the penalties associated with possession of marijuana. It is important to know that possession of concentrated cannabis (often referred to as ‘hash’ or ‘hashish’) carries a different penalty than the possession of marijuana. Having possession of any amount of concentrated cannabis caries the penalty of imprisonment in county jail and a maximum fine of $500.00 (or both). Possession of more than 28.5 g (a little more than an ounce) of marijuana carries the same fine, but also has a maximum penalty of 6 months in county jail.
Even though the penalties for possession of marijuana in the state of California have been somewhat lessened, the impact of being charged with these crimes may be the same for minorities, in particular the African American population.. Why are African Americans being arrested for drug charges at this seemingly insane rate? Is it a case of racial profiling? We may never know the answer, but we do know that this group has been targeted more than any other in the Bay area and it is important to know your rights when it comes to drug-related charges – no matter what the color of your skin may be.
If you or someone you know if facing marijuana or drug charges in the San Francisco Bay Area, contact a San Francisco Marijuana Attorney at the Summit Defense Law Firm for a free initial consultation.