Where Houston’s Pot Smokers Live (the Ones Who Get Arrested)

Map of Weed Arrests in Early 2016 by Home Address, Superimposed over Median Incomes Greater than $80k

Is there a connection between where you live and your likelihood of getting arrested for weed in Houston? A map from January Advisor’s (and Sketch City‘s) Jeff Reichman adds a few data points to that conversation this afternoon, though he doesn’t appear to push any specific conclusions in his how, what, and why writeup. Reichman gathered data on the folks that Harris County’s public jail records system says were arrested over the first half of this year for minor marijuana possession offenses (instead of just being given a citation for the same offense). The red dots on the interactive map show the arrestees’ home addresses (scootched around a bit to somewhere within the dot’s 300-meter radius, for the sake of anonymity).

The other data layer (in shades of blue) shows census blocks with median income over $80,000 (marking roughly the start of what the US census measures as the top quarter of household earnings in the US, Reichman notes). The blue areas, which get darker as income gets higher, appear relatively arrest-free, though a 2012 study from the NIH suggest that more frequent weed use may be linked to higher socioeconomic status.

Map: Jeff Reichman

Mapping the Green

25 Comment

  • I’m in a pot free arrest zone. I think I will light up.

  • legalize it. i like a good cigar and whiskey every blue moon but yet i cant legally enjoy a six pack and a spliff?

  • Another great job swamplot. If this map doesn’t show that being BLACK or POOR is what AMERIKKKA associates with criminality. Instead of laws for equal society, we have laws here that penalize an entire group just based off of their natural culture.

  • We should overlay the gentrification arrow on all of these maps. Good visual on how gentrified areas are policed differently.

  • Adoile is officially the Anti-Commensense poster on this forum

  • @Adoile, are you saying the people arrested DID NOT break the law?

  • Presenting today’s lesson on correlation != causation….

  • While the overlays are interesting, I don’t think there’s a real conclusion to be made. The blue areas are only for the highest 25% income tracts. What about the “middle class” areas (second highest and third highest)? .
    Maybe the majority of arrested pot smokers are really in the middle class areas so we can put away the war drums and take a deep knee bend. It is the start of a holiday weekend after all.

  • @Adoile,

    All this map proves is that people that live in the more affluent neighborhoods are smart enough to not smoke that _____ in public. Your constant display racism is amazing ….

  • Really, @Mr.Clean19? To me he sounds like a racist and a race baiter, victimization abuser, and hypocrite, like Jessy Jackson and Al Sharpton.

  • How dumb do you have to be to be arrested to weed these days?

  • andoile, are you so daft that if someone doesn’t spell out the point for you that you don’t get it?
    So one of a few things is true:
    Cops are only arresting poor people who smoke pot.
    Cops are only targeting poor areas when looking for pot smokers.
    Rich people don’t smoke pot.
    Poor people smoke pot more frequently.
    any which way you slice it, the fact is, when people are arrested for pot they are poor. So the laws of our country seem to target the poor unfairly.
    now, I am disappointed that you seem to try to bring race into a discussion that clearly has no place for race. if you look at the map, the arrests are dispersed across all racial and ethnic areas of the city. There appear to be as many arrests in Gulfton (primarily Hispanic), as in 3rd ward (primarily Black), as in Jersey Village (primarily white), as in Alief (primarily Asian). This is all according to the last census.
    I’m all about discussing race when it is appropriate, but it is not appropriate in this discussion, so stop. When swamplot runs an article that shows the racial background of the arrested individuals and then we can discuss race in this context, but this map does not provide any information on race at all, other than what we can infer through census data regarding the location of the arrest.
    It’s quite amazing that there’s only one arrest for pot on UH. Campus police must be lenient, or not even look for it.

  • I’m curious what a sex offender overlay would look like…

  • Random noise, move along, nothing to see here.

    Images like this CAN be quantified and analyzed statistically and hahahahhahaha just kidding it’s much more fun to bloviate and pontificate over something stupid.

  • Now if the people with the big red dots would just send an email to their reps there’ll be legal weed in the next couple of years and we could end all of this silliness.

  • definitely racist race-baiter, “their natural culture”? what a trash comment.

  • @commonsense – Are you saying that doesnt sounds like the exact opposite from you?

  • sociology 101 says poor people get arrested for drug use more often because they typically don’t live in a gated complex where they can do drugs undetected.

    Most Harris county ADA’s come from local law schools where there is definitely a culture of smoking pot whether it’s UH or Houston College of Law or whatever. Yet, you don’t see them prosecuting their classmates (or themselves!)

  • @ toasty: Just FYI, Alief has some Asians yes, but it is primarily Black and Hispanic.

  • In related news, Augusta Maine had one of its biggest heroine busts in years lately. Of 7 people arrested, 6 were black. 86%. That would be shocking regardless, but even more so when you consider that only 1% of the population of Augusta Maine is black.
    I bring this up here for two reasons. First, yes: Adoile is entirely correct. There is a HUGE difference between how poor minorities are treated by the police, and how wealthier whites are treated. You can see it if you live in those neighborhoods; and you can see it in these maps. Second, it is astoundingly naive to think this problem is confined to the South and Texas. It’s a nation-wide problem and the sooner we realize that, the sooner we can start to address it.

  • ZAW: Huge difference between how poor are treated and rich. Why say “poor black” and “rich white”. When you say that, while being correct, you imply it’s because of color and not class.
    I could say “Poor green eyed people get arrested more than rich blue eyed people”, but it would be silly to conclude the eye color has any part of it.
    But yeah, there are a few racists out there of all colors. I ran into plenty of racism working in (primarily) black neighborhoods. Shit like “Get out of ‘our’ area”. Our area? Can you imagine if a white guy said something similar to a black guy?
    So anyway, while there are some racists out there, they’re small in number, and they’re (thankfully) dying out. What your left with is poor people getting hosed — but when a disproportional % of poor are people of color, people draw a conclusion that society is racist which it’s not.

  • Cody, where did ZAW say “poor black”? I’ve re-read it 3x, and all I see is “poor minorities” in his comment.

  • Just legalize the damn stuff already! Adoile/Common, make LOVE not troll WAR

  • From personal experience as a minority you’re more likely to have your vehicle searched which leads to more drug arrest. In 20+ years of driving I’ve been pulled over for speeding four times and had my vehicle searched twice. I have white friends that have been pulled over for speeding multiple times in the same year and were never asked to search their vehicle. This has little to do with how poor people are because it affects minorities no matter their income.

  • Think about this folks. How many folks making $80k+ light-up in public or carry a dime-bag on them regularly? Heck, I know people in that range who aren’t even willing to smoke their cigarettes in public. That’s not to say police don’t profile. As a cop once told me: If you are a geologist and one type of rock produces oil 8/10 times and the other produces 4/10 times, which rock are you going to go after more?