Stephen Coger, director of the Arkansas Justice Collective, released today his group’s review of Fayetteville marijuana enforcement.
As mentioned yesterday, the figures show that — despite a voter-approved policy to de-emphasize enforcement of marijuana possession law — arrests have nearly tripled over three years. The group contends arrests have disproportionately affected blacks, LGBT people and immigrants.
Coger, in releasing the report, made suggestions to city officials:
- End misdemeanor marijuana possession arrests.
- Appoint a committee to ensure “equitable policing” and to help in a search to replace the retiring police chief.
- End funding and participation in the multi-agency drug task force that makes a significant portion of the arrests or else make participation contingent on a focus on violent and dangerous offenders.
- Drop all pending charges of simple possession.
The city attorney’s office in a letter to Coger takes some exception to figures and conclusions, first by saying there aren’t reliable numbers on arrests based on sexual orientation or immigration status, though race is quantified. The letter says many of those arrested are given only citations and that the best approach to marijuana enforcement is to change existing state and federal law.