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Report: Disparities in unequal marijuana law enforcement in Wisconsin

MILWAUKEE (WTAQ) - A new report shows a lack of equality in enforcing laws against marijuana possession in Wisconsin -- and black men come up on the short end.

The Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service says African-Americans are six times as likely as whites to be charged with marijuana possession -- and it's the 4th-highest disparity rate in the nation behind neighbors Illinois, Minnesota, and Iowa.

The news service also cited ACLU figures showing that 4.7 blacks are arrested for every white in Milwaukee County -- where about 70 percent of the state's African-Americans live. That was as of 2013.  

The report says marijuana convictions are a big reason why Wisconsin leads the nation in racial disparity in its prison system.

A UW-Milwaukee study shows that Wisconsin's black incarceration rate of 12.8 percent is 3 percent higher than Oklahoma, which has the second-highest disparity.

Assembly Democrat Melissa Sargent of Madison says the state needs to "rethink how our criminal justice system looks at marijuana." She introduced a bill in January to legalize the drug, citing a high expense for law enforcement.

The governor's office says legalization is not a top priority.

(Story courtesy of Wheeler News Service)