Akwasi Owusu-Bempah

Akwasi Owusu-Bempah

Associate Professor & Associate Chair, Research

Akwasi Owusu-Bempah B.A. (Carleton), M.A., Ph.D. (Toronto), is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Toronto and a Senior Fellow at Massey College. He holds Affiliate Scientist status at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and serves as Director of Research for the Campaign for Cannabis Amnesty.  Dr. Owusu-Bempah’s work examines the intersections of race, crime and criminal justice. His current research spans across criminal justice institutions. He is also studying various aspects of drug legalization in Canada and around the world. He published regularly in both academic and popular forums.

Dr. Owusu-Bempah began his academic career in the United States at Indiana University, Bloomington. Prior to becoming a professor, he held positions with Canada’s National Judicial Institute, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and the Ontario’s Ministry of the Solicitor General. Dr. Owusu-Bempah is frequently sought out to provide commentary and advice to police agencies, government bodies, community organizations, and media outlets on matters relating to policing, justice, and social inequality.

His latest book is entitled Waiting to Inhale: Cannabis Legalization and the Fight for Racial Justice (MIT Press).

Ph.D., M.A. (University of Toronto)
B.A. (Carleton)


Journal Articles

Cantor, Nathan, Mila Kingsbury, Hayley A. Hamilton, T. Cameron Wild, Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, and Ian Colman. 2021. “Correlates of Driving After Cannabis Use in High School Students.” Preventive Medicine. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ypmed.2021.106667

Owusu-Bempah, Akwasi. 2021. “Where is the Fairness in Canadian Cannabis Legalization?” Journal of Canadian Studies 55(2):395-418.

Owusu-Bempah, Akwasi, Maria Jung, Firdaous Sbaï, Andrew S. Wilton, and Fiona Kouyoumdjian. 2021. “Race and Incarceration: The Representation and Characteristics of Black People in Provincial Correctional Facilities in Ontario, Canada.” Race and Justice. https://doi.org/10.1177/21533687211006461

Owusu-Bempah, Akwasi and Alex Luscombe. 2021. “Race, Cannabis and the Canadian War on Drugs: An Examination of Cannabis Arrest Data by Race in Five Cities.” International Journal of Drug Policy. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2020.102937

Kouyoumdjian, Fiona G., Ri Wang, Cilia Mejia-Lancheros, Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, Rosane Nisenbaum, Patricia O’Campo, Vicky Stergiopoulos, and Stephen W. Hwang. 2019. “Interactions Between Police and Persons Who Experience Homelessness and Mental Illness in Toronto, Canada: Findings From a Prospective Study.” Canadian Journal of Psychiatry 64(10):718-725. http://doi.org/10.1177/0706743719861386

Hamilton, Haley A., Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, Angela Boak, and Robert E. Mann. 2018. “Ethnoracial Differences in Cannabis Use Among Native-born and Foreign-born High School Students in Ontario.” Journal of Ethnicity in Substance Abuse 17(2):123-134. http://doi.org/10.1080/15332640.2017.1312655

Owusu-Bempah, Akwasi. 2017. “Race and Policing in Historical Context: Dehumanization and the Policing of Black People in the 21st Century.” Theoretical Criminology 21(1):23-34. https://doi.org/10.1177/1362480616677493

Unnever, James, Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, and Rustu Deryol. 2017. “A Test of the Differential Involvement Hypothesis.” Race and Justice 9(2):197-224. https://doi.org/10.1177/2153368717697104

Cobbina, Jennifer E., Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, and Kimberly Bender. 2016. “Perceptions of Race, Crime, and Policing Among Ferguson Protesters.” Journal of Crime and Justice 39(1):210-229. https://doi.org/10.1080/0735648X.2015.1119950

Owusu-Bempah, Akwasi. 2014. “Cannabis Impaired Driving: An Evaluation of Current Modes of Detection.” Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice 56(2):219-240. https://doi.org/10.3138/CJCCJ.2014.ES05

Owusu-Bempah, Akwasi, Steve Kanters, Eric Druyts, Katherine A. Muldoon, John W. Farquhar, and Edward J. Mills. 2014. “Life Years Lost to Incarceration: Inequities Between Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal Canadians.” BMC Public Health 14(1):585-591. http://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2458-14-585

Millar, Paul and Akwasi Owusu-Bempah. 2011. “Whitewashing Criminal Justice in Canada: Preventing Research Through Data Suppression.” Canadian Journal of Law and Society 26(3):653-661. https://doi.org/10.3138/cjls.26.3.653

Wortley, Scot and Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, A. 2011. “The Usual Suspects: Police Stop and Search Practices in Canada.” Policing and Society 21(4):395-407. https://doi.org/10.1080/10439463.2011.610198 (Reprinted in Stop and Search: Police Power in Global Context. 2012. Weber, Leanne and Ben Bowling, eds. London, UK: Routledge.)

Owusu-Bempah, Akwasi and Paul Millar. 2010. “Research Note: Revisiting the Collection of ‘Justice Statistics by Race’ in Canada.” Canadian Journal of Law and Society 25(1):97-104. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0829320100010231

Wortley, Scot and Akwasi Owusu-Bempah. 2009. “Unequal Before the Law: Immigrant and Racial Minority Perceptions of the Canadian Criminal Justice System.” Journal of International Migration and Integration 10(4):447-473. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12134-009-0108-x

Book Chapters

Owusu-Bempah, Akwasi, Alex Luscombe, and Brandon M. Finlay. 2019. “Unequal Justice: Race and Cannabis Arrests in the Post-Legal Landscape.” In High Time: The Legalization and Regulation of Cannabis in Canada, edited by Andrew Potter and Daniel M. Weinstock. Kingston, ON: McGill-Queen's University Press.

Unnever, James and Akwasi Owusu-Bempah. 2019. “A Black Criminology Matters.”  In Building a Black Criminology, Volume 24: Race, Theory, and Crime, edited by James D. Unnever, Shaun L. Gabbidon, and Cecilia Chouhy. London, UK: Routledge.

Chapman-Nyaho, Selom, Carl E. James, and Akwasi Owusu-Bempah. 2018. “Racism and Justice in Canada.” In Pursuing Justice, edited by Margot A. Hulbert. Halifax, NS: Fernwood Publishing.

Owusu-Bempah, Akwasi, and Scot Wortley. 2014. “Race, Crime, and Criminal Justice in Canada.” In The Oxford Handbook of Ethnicity, Crime, and Immigration, edited by Sandra Bucerius and Michael Tonry. New York: Oxford University Press.

Wortley, Scot and Akwasi Owusu-Bempah. 2012. “Race, Ethnicity, Crime and Criminal Justice in Canada.” In Race, Ethnicity, Crime and Criminal Justice in the Americas, edited by Anita Kalunta-Crumpton. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Wortley, Scot and Akwasi Owusu-Bempah. 2011. “Criminal Justice and the Experience of Blacks in Canada.” In Diversity, Crime, and Justice in Canada, edited by Barbara Perry. New York: Oxford University Press.

Research Reports

Owusu-Bempah, Akwasi and Storm Jeffers. 2021. “An Exploration of the Challenges Facing Black Youth Who Have Been in Contact with the Youth Criminal Justice System: Summary Report.” Report prepared for the Department of Justice. Ottawa: DOJ.

Owusu-Bempah, Akwasi and the Mental Health Commission of Canada. 2021. “Amplifying Black Experiences in Cannabis and Mental Health Research: Virtual Dialogue Series.” Ottawa, Canada: Mental Health Commission of Canada.

Owusu-Bempah, Akwasi, and Scot Wortley. 2021. “Racial Equity Impact Assessment of the TTC Enforcement Unit.” Interim report prepared for the Toronto Transit Commission.

Owusu-Bempah, Akwasi, Scot Wortley, Roksolyana Shlapak, and Nigel Lake. 2021. “Impact of Cannabis Legalization on Youth Contact with the Criminal Justice System.” Report prepared for the Canadian Centre on Substance Use. Ottawa: CCSA.

Wortley, Scot and Akwasi Owusu-Bempah. 2019. “Scientific Framework for the Collection, Reporting and Analysis of Identity-Based Data – Validation Report.

Owusu-Bempah, Akwasi, Carl E. James, and Camisha Sibliss. 2018. “Expert Report on Crime, Criminal Justice and the Experience of Black Canadians in Toronto, Ontario.

Wortley, Scot and Akwasi Owusu-Bempah. 2018. “Analysis of Historical Street Check Data from Various Ontario Police Services: Data Report. Toronto, ON: Independent Street Checks Review.

Wortley, Scot and Akwasi Owusu-Bempah. 2018. “A Social Scientific Analysis of Police Street Checks: Review of the Literature. Toronto, ON: Independent Street Checks Review.

Wortley, Scot and Akwasi Owusu-Bempah. 2015. “Final Report of the Youth Justice Education Program. Toronto, ON: African Canadian Legal Clinic.

Owusu-Bempah, Akwasi. 2011. “Race-Based Criminal Justice Data in Canada: Suggestions for Moving Forward. Ottawa, ON: Public Safety Canada.

Levi, R. and Akwasi Owusu-Bempah. 2010. “Justice, Policing and Security: A Review of the 2009 Canadian Research Literature.” Ottawa, ON: Metropolis.

Wortley, Scot, James Doiron, Zachary Levinsky, Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, Lysandra Marshall, Rhea Adhopia, Kanika Samuels, Steve Cook, Stephanie Roberts, and Amanda Boyce. 2008. “Preventing Youth Crime and Violence: A Review of the Literature.” Toronto, ON: Queen’s Printer for Ontario.


Policing; Race, Crime and Criminal Justice
Current Courses
SOC210H5, SOC322H5