Black people in Massachusetts were 3.3 times more likely to be arrested than white people for marijuana possession in 2014, according to an ACLU of Massachusetts report—a figure that increased from 2.2 in 2001, despite the state decriminalizing marijuana possession in 2009.

The ACLU of Massachusetts and advocates for marijuana legalization from the Yes on 4 campaign highlighted that racial disparity in marijuana arrests at a press conference outside Roxbury District Court on Thursday.

Shanel Lindsay, a Boston attorney who runs a cannabis device company, said a police officer arrested her after finding a small amount of pot in her bag during a traffic stop.

“As we’re driving down to the station, I’m pleading with him, asking him why," she said. "Why he is arresting me? Why he is not just giving me a ticket?”

“As we’re driving down to the station, I’m pleading with him, asking him why. Why he is arresting me? Why he is not just giving me a ticket?” she said.

Lindsay was later released, but the ACLU of Massachusetts report says black people make up nearly a quarter of all possession arrests and 41 percent of sales arrests, even though they are just 8 percent of the state’s population. 

Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson said at the press conference that legalization will start to change that.

“All too often, young people get involved in the revolving door of going into this building, a trial court, and never coming out of the system,” Jackson said.

“The racial disparities that continue to persist even after decriminalization are a problem,” said Rashaan Hall, director of the Racial Justice Program for the state ACLU. “And that’s why it’s important that we talk about legalization, because communities of color can no longer afford to bear the brunt of policing practices that disproportionately target them for the use and sale of marijuana.”

The campaign against the ballot initiative released a statement from the Massachusetts Public Health Association, saying legalization could actually exacerbate inequities by creating an industry that would target communities of color, and that it could worsen racial disparities in enforcement.