4/20 day is no celebration for these Americans — they’re most likely to get arrested

April 20, or “4/20,” is known in popular culture as a day to celebrate recreational marijuana.

But the day is also a reminder for many about those who have less cause for “celebration”: People of color, who are arrested more frequently than people who are white, for marijuana-related crime.

Cynthia Nixon, an actress who is running for governor of New York, recently took the issue on in video she posted on social media.

“There are a lot of good reasons for legalizing marijuana, but for me, it comes down to this: We have to stop putting people of color in jail for something that white people do with impunity,” she said.

According to several organizations, Nixon is right that people of color are more likely to be targeted in marijuana crimes.

Some 86% of people who are arrested for possessing marijuana in New York City are black or Latino, according to New York’s City Council.

Despite that high number, black and white New Yorkers use marijuana at about the same rate: About a third of black and white 18 to 25-year-olds say they have used marijuana in the last year, according to The New York Daily News.

But the top five neighborhoods for marijuana arrests in New York are all in East Harlem and the south Bronx, areas that are some of the city’s least wealthy, and that are home to many people of color.

New York’s statistics show a theme that extends across the U.S.

• Marijuana use is roughly equal among black and white people, but black Americans are 3.73 times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which analyzed data between 2001 and 2010.

• Human Rights Watch, an international non-governmental organization (NGO), found similar evidence when analyzing all drugs, including marijuana: According to the organization, black adults in the U.S. are more than 2.5 times as likely as white adults to be arrested for drug possession.

And those arrests don’t just include possession for large quantities of drugs, Human Rights Watch found. Many individuals the organization interviewed said they possessed less than a gram of drugs for personal use at the time of their arrest.

Arrests for drug crimes can lead to further problems, Human Rights Watch said. Many of those problems are financial. People who are convicted of drug possession also often have trouble paying fines, court costs and public defender application fees. A drug conviction can also make it difficult to get a job or be approved to rent housing.

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