Gretchen Schuldt
Court Watch

Whites Just 9% of County Pot Arrests

Blacks are 25% of county residents but were 86% of all marijuana arrests in last two years.

By , Wisconsin Justice Initiative - Apr 25th, 2018 01:10 pm

Marijuana plant. Photo by Jennifer Martin (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.

Marijuana plant. Photo by Jennifer Martin (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.

Some 86% of the folks busted for felony second offense marijuana possession in Milwaukee County were African-American, records show.

Just 9 percent were white and 4 percent were Hispanic or Latino.

The county’s population is about 66 percent white, 25 percent black, and 9 percent Latino or Hispanic.

WJI was able to identify a total of 95 arrests countywide during 2015 and 2016 that resulted in the single charge of felony second offense marijuana possession. Incurring a second charge of possession of marijuana, no matter how small the amount, is a felony in Wisconsin.

Seventy-six of the county’s 2015 and 2016 arrests occurred in the City of Milwaukee north of I-94, seven occurred in the city south of I-94, and one occurred on I-94.

Eleven total arrests occurred in the suburbs of Cudahy (2), Glendale (3), Greendale (1), Oak Creek (1), South Milwaukee (1), and Wauwatosa (3). The remaining suburbs had no arrests resulting in felony second offense possession charges.

County Supervisor John Weishan is seeking a November advisory referendum on marijuana legalization. The arrest numbers may well be argument in favor – get rid of marijuana prohibitions, and get rid of some elements of biased law enforcement.

2015-16 Felony second  offense marijuana possession arrests – Milwaukee, I-94 and north

 2015-16 Felony second offense marijuana possession arrests - Milwaukee, I-94 and north

2015-16 Felony second offense marijuana possession arrests – Milwaukee, I-94 and north

Key to the maps: Pins represent 2016 arrests; officers represent 2015 arrests. Racial key: brown = African American; red = Hispanic; green / blue = white.

2015-16 Felony second offense marijuana possession arrests - Milwaukee, I-94 and south

2015-16 Felony second offense marijuana possession arrests – Milwaukee, I-94 and south

Gretchen Schuldt writes a blog for Wisconsin Justice Initiative, whose mission is “To improve the quality of justice in Wisconsin by educating the public about legal issues and encouraging civic engagement in and debate about the judicial system and its operation.

22 thoughts on “Court Watch: Whites Just 9% of County Pot Arrests”

  1. Terry says:

    Disgusting and totally unacceptable! Cannabis is the #1 cash crop in America. It’s bigger than corn y’all! People have used cannabis for medicinal and culinary purposes for thousands of years, it’s not going away! Hey State of Wisconsin! Newsflash! You can’t arrest your way out of this! It’s much wiser to end this racist relic of Prohibition for good. 64% of Wisconsinites want full legalization for Respinsible Adult Use and over 90% want the stare to have a medical cannabis program like Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois and dozens of other states have had for years or as is the case for my home state of Washington decades now! Republicans like Walker must be voted out of office in November so we can move FORWARD again.
    Americans love ganja! For good reason! It is the healing of the nations, the tree of life for millions of good, loving, caring, hard working Americans. We must end this National Disaster that has been cannabis prohibition and get rid of these racist Jim Crow style laws that underpin it. The only way we can do that in Wisconsib is by DUMPING SCOTT WALKER and ALL republicans in November! Get out and vote these charlatans and bums out! Republicans have been standing in the way of reform for decades. It’s so sad and wrong that Wisconsin hasn’t even decriminalized yet much less that the state has no medical cannabis program. What a regressive backwater Career Politician Scott Walker has made this place. Now while legalization spreads all across North America, Wisconsin still has some of those regressive, draconian cannabis laws in the entire country! A felony for small time possession, that is F#!&$ing crazy!! Felony convictions ruin lives, cannabis does not! Scott Walker and republicans have ruined the state. Now legalization is spreading like wildfire everywhere else except in Walker’s Wisconsin where lives are ruined daily because of this old, unwanted racist prohibition, all while all the fat, old, wrinkly white republican downpressers drink their big champagne, smoke their cigars, chug their vile rot-gut liquor and laugh… So my friends on the West Coast get to become multi-millionaires in the cannabis industry but people here get felony convictions for having a bag of ganja? WTF? Wisconsin?! That’s so stupid! I have the farm land. I have a tractor. Yet the land lies fallow and the tractor sits idle, all while all the farms around me go bankrupt and disappear, and as the young people continue to flee northern Wisconsin in droves as poverty, unemployment and hopelessness spread across the northland. We must change Wisconsin! A felony conviction ruins people’s lives, cannabis does not! We need people to stay in Wisconsin. We need capital investment and jobs and businesses! We need roads fixed and schools funded. We need to respect people’s basic civil rights and their freedom and liberty. What we don’t need is utterly failed, racist, old timey drug war dinosaur cannabis prohibition laws! They don’t work! Prohibition has been far more deleterious to society than cannabis itself ever has been or ever will be. In fact, far from deleterious this is a life saving, beautiful healing herb for millions of Americans including our veterans, cancer patients, those suffering with a host of awful maladies, from epilepsy to MS. Enough lives have been ruined by Prohibition. Let’s embrace the free market not the black market anymore in Wisconsin. Write and call your representatives and tell them to Legalize, tax and regulate cannabis. Then in November get out and vote. We must Dump Career Politician and fulltime Prohibitionist Scott Walker and every other lying Prohibitionist Republican!!

    Dump Walker
    Legalize it!

  2. Troll says:

    It is not explain well in this article if the subjects were arrested solely on marijuana charges or other acts of criminality. How much was the quantity in considering arrest?

  3. Terry says:

    @Troll, possession of any amount in Career Politician Scott Walker’s Wisconsin, no matter how little, is still a felony the second time with the penalty being a $10,000 fine and 3.5 years in prison. Walker and Republicans have kept Wisconsin mired in the Dark Ages with such life destroying draconian laws on the books while the modern civilized world moves on without Wisconsin.

    Wisconsin has seriously Nazi marijuana laws, just another reason to vote ALL Republicans and Career Politician Scott Walker out of office in November!

    Dump Walker!
    Legalize cannabis!

  4. Tom says:

    Meanwhile Michigan is moving forward with full legalization after years of medical marijuana! Legalization for responsible adult use like alcohol will be on the ballot in November. Sucks to be in Wisconsin especially if you are black. God Walker’s Wisconsin is a backwards Wisconsin is surrounded on all sides by states with MMJ laws or like all of Canada full legalization yet in Wisconsin it’s still a felony. We must vote Walker and republicans out this November.

  5. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Kill of the minorities; right Terry? Sanger your hero? Mengele?
    There is lots of Pot outstate and is si causing big problems with our kids, rotting their brains.
    The drug overdoes that using Pot leads to, hits our girls the worst.
    All studies show that Pot use, by our youth inhibits their brain growth.
    Want this huge mess in our state that they have in Co. and Calif?
    Do we really want to bury our kids fro 30 pieces of sliver of taxes?

  6. Dan says:

    You’re the dumbest person to ever look at and reply on this website, WCD. You have no facts. You can’t communicate your opinion at all. You’re a pill pusher who’s time has passed. It’s true; “google it!” Talk about rotting brains…

  7. Caligula says:

    What a surprise! Wisconsin has racist marijuana laws! I’m so shocked. Anybody who has ever been to Wisconson knows it’s a racist backwater. Legalize it.

  8. DK says:

    WCD, you must have had quite a lot of marijuana over the years, then. Your response includes a spelling and/or grammar error on almost every line.

  9. Terry says:

    @WCD, are you drunk? Are you strung out on pills? I don’t really know how to respond to your strange rambling nonsensical comments. Get some help and sober up. The fact is, Wisconsin is already awash in cannabis and had been for many many decades. There is currently a 1 billion dollar black market for cannabis in Wisconsin right now. The black market is thriving as it has for decades. Teen use rates do not go up in legal states nor do use rates in general skyrocket after prohibition is ended. Why, because anybody who wants cannabis in Wisconsin can already get it. Sorry, WCD, most Americans simply are not as obsequious as you lying, cheating, stealing sycophantic Trump Toady Republicans. All prohibition does is greatly enrich black market purveyors to society at large’s detriment. Get your head out of your a/# old man. Change for the better is coming to Wisconsin right after we kick Career Politician Scott Walker and all these other lying, scheming corrupted Republican Prohibitionists out of office in November.

    Dump Walker
    Legalize cannabis!

  10. Jake currently of the MKE says:

    WCD is making more sense than normal because it knows their rightwing tyranny is coming to the end.
    The problem is not only white privilege but the fact Republican support the school to prison pipeline to enrich their for profit Prison donors,
    WCD is as white supremacist as Republicans come. The party of criminals, prdophiles, and traitors.The party of Trump.

  11. MKE Kid says:

    Legalize it, regulate it, and tax it, already!
    Ugh. Wisconsin USED to be such a progressive state with a clean and open state government. I’m so sad at what it has turned to in less than a decade under Walker and his cabal of regressive Koch funded toadies. Warren Knowles and Gaylord Nelson are turning in their graves.

  12. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Progressive means making poisons legal that will kill our kids? Wow, Knowles and Gaylord never advocated using drugs or alcohol for that matter. Both Gaylord and Knowles were friends of mine.
    Regulate it ? it is regulated now and no one pays attention to that, the death spiral is exploding. CDC, FDA have labeled it as Gateway drug and they are the experts, not the addicts and pot heads. Tax it.
    We really need taxes so bad that we wish to become Colorado, California. Google Colorado, DUI’s, crime, overdose deaths, increase in STD’s and that is who you want for Wisconsin?
    Recent studies show that the number one, 9 of ten kids going into clinics is fro Pot.
    Pot inhibits brains growth in the kids in there teens. tats what you ant?
    There is ton o f research out there and little of it is good.

  13. Terry says:

    Cannabis prohibition is a crime against humanity.
    God made the herb for all humanity. Pour out that rot-gut liquor, throw away those poison opioids.
    Exodus 30:23
    Legalize it!

  14. Troll says:

    Colorado governor won’t rule out banning marijuana again. Here’s why.

    It is interesting with the Left that when they get their way, it is finale…end of story. The Governor of Colorado sees problems with weed. The Left comes storming in. End of story. Your argument is not valid.

    A student at Marquette challenges Gay Marriage. Your a homophobe. This University is a place to debate ideas but your ideas are hateful, extremist and cannot be talked about.
    Pro-Life (against women’s rights, misogynist)

    Gun Rights- The Left allow high school students to plead their case and then they attack you for arguing against vulnerable children.

    Immigration- The Left encourages caravans of Latin born migrants to enter the United Stated by hundreds and thousands …and fights to demand for their constitutional American rights. If you buid a wall your a Nazi.

  15. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    I spent 40 years as clinical RPh in Rehab, nursing homes. I looked at thousands of charts of junkies, addicts alcoholics and Potheads, on their last days as drugs wrecked their bodies.
    It is tough to watch good people destroy their lives: they lie, cheat, steal, murder, to get drugs. Drive DUI’s with alcohol and drugs.
    We have warned everyone about where Colorado is going as is California.
    Do stupid People really believe that you can take a mind altering drugs, really bad for kids, for years and not screw up your body.
    I listened to all the stories of the addicts, Pot heads, alcoholics with all their stupid stories about their lives.
    Alcoholics, Potheads, addicts, junkies are the cause of all the problems in society: Auto deaths, hospital costs, family destruction, jobs lost, deaths, crime.

  16. Terry says:

    Here’s what’s happening back home in Seattle these days…jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, freedom, personal liberty and all without having to pour 4.5 billion of taxpayers’ money down the toilet on a Chinese slave wage factory. Walker’s Wisconsin is racist, drunk and wack as hell on top. Legalize it.

  17. Terry says:

    @Troll, Hickenlooper has admitted he was wrong about cannabis and admits legalization is better and has been successful, just like my governor Jay Inslee. Maybe you’d have a point IF so many Republicans weren’t actually Nazis, homophobes, misogynists and fear mongering, scapegoating racists and fascists at heart. But they are, so you don’t.

    Dump Walker
    Legalize cannabis

  18. Caligula says:

    Legalize, tax and REGULATE!

  19. dan says:

    Until it is legalized on the Federal level, it should remain illegal in WI since federal law supersedes state law. The feds can still bust you, even in states like CO.

  20. Terry says:

    @Dan, Bullsh#t! Spoken like a true obsequious
    Midwesterner. Always the followers, never the leaders in the midwest…Just fyi, you have no clue what you are talking about. The states are laboratories of Democracy and states’ rights matter my friend. Legalization on the state level lays the groundwork for federal nullification of this old, unwanted, failed law, just like the states did with the failure of alcohol prohibition. New York kicked it off then and the other states and feds followed. Furthermore we have had medical cannabis in my home state of Washington for over 20 years now. You know how many people the feds arrested? Zero. Why? Because the feds rely on the states to enforce their prohibition because the federal government doesn’t have the resources to shut down the dispensaries in L.A. much less the rest of California, all of Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Nevada, Vermont, Massachussetts, D.C. Maine where the Responsible Adult Use of cannabis is fully legal for adults 21 and up or the 29 other states with medical cannabis laws! Furthermore, you are wrong that the feds can still arrest anyone other than those crossing state lines (trafficking) or growing large scale. W hy? Because for your information, thanks to a lot of our hard work over the decades we have the Rohrbacher/Farr Amendment for many years and now the Rohrbacher/Blumenauer Amendment, which allocates ZERO money from Congress to the Justice Dept to prosecute anyone or any state for medical cannabis use that is lawful within their state. So, hope this helps clear this issue up for you and I invite you to research some more if you like and please join us in working towards ending the utterly failed, life destroying, racist relic of cannabis prohibition in Wisconsin.

    Legalize it!
    One Love Wisconsin!

  21. Troll says:

    The Communist attitude to drug use was characterised by the policy of ”strict execution, lenient punishment”. Despite widespread arrests and large anti-drug rallies, the number of actual drug offenders executed was relatively low, and the punishment of execution was generally reserved for high-level suppliers, not addicts.

    The Chinese Government embarked on a National Drug Campaign from 1949 until 1952, with the goal of reducing opium use. The campaign utilised propaganda, rallies, rehabilitation centres, and waves of mass arrests, however very few executions. This was the only major anti-drug campaign enacted while Mao was in power.

    At the peak of the campaign, the Communists directed that around 2% of drug offenders should be sentenced to execution, and authorised the execution of up to a dozen high level suppliers in strategically chosen cities. The actual figure of offenders sentenced to execution was around 1%, with the majority of offenders being sentenced to rehabilitation or periods of imprisonment.

    The campaign was highly successful. It largely eliminated an endemic problem with opium addiction which both the Qing dynasty and Nationalist governments had unsuccessfully attempted to address.

  22. Terry says:

    @NaziTroll, well this is America and we do things a little bit different than Maoist China…So if you Nazi Republicans want to want to try rounding up and executing people, start with the drunks and opioid addicts, meaning your friends, family and even yourselves. See how that goes. Meanwhile I’ll be out in the woods on my front porch cleaning Ol’ Nellie, waiting for ya. See ya soon!

    God Bless America!

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us