Sacramento Municipal Utility District Accused of Targeting Asian Customers for Suspected Cannabis Growing

A data privacy watchdog group has filed a lawsuit against the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) alleging it deliberately targeted Asian customers in an effort to help police crack down on illegal marijuana grows.

Excessive energy use is one of the hallmark signs of cannabis cultivation. To help law enforcement, the lawsuit claims SMUD provided lists of customers with excessive usage each month — without first obtaining a warrant. Furthermore, the suit says SMUD deliberately targeted Asians and excluded predominantly white neighborhoods from its analysis.

“A police analyst then reportedly singled out Asian-sounding names from the list provided for further investigation,” according to Yahoo News.

As a result, according to the plaintiffs, Asians were disproportionately subject to criminal prosecution.

This is not the first time an agency has been accused of singling out Asians for marijuana enforcement. Last month, The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California filed a civil rights lawsuit against Siskiyou County and its sheriff on behalf of members of the Hmong community. The class action complaint alleges “a sweeping campaign to harass and intimidate Hmong and other Asian Americans.”