Does Pot Legalization Lead to Fewer Minority Arrests?

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Advocates for legalizing recreational marijuana often argue that legalization will mean fewer drug-related arrests and convictions of minorities. California’s Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom has cited the disproportional impact of the "War on Drugs" on people of color as a reason for his support of legalization. It is true that African Americans are only 7 percent of the population in California, but represent more than 20 percent of those arrested for marijuana felonies. So how would legalization impact arrest rates? A look at what happened after Colorado and Washington legalized marijuana in 2012 is in order.