Research

Marijuana Arrests Increasing Nationally Despite State Reforms

On Monday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation released their annual Crime in the United States (CIUS) report, and the stats are concerning.

Tom Angell reported for Forbes:

Marijuana possession busts comprised 37.36% of all reported drug arrests in the U.S. in 2016, and cannabis sales and manufacturing arrests accounted for another 4.18% of the total.

Added together, marijuana arrests made up 41.54% of the 1,572,579 drug busts in the country last year.

That means, based on an extrapolation, that police arrested people for cannabis 653,249 times in the U.S. in 2016.

That averages out to about one marijuana arrest every 48 seconds.

According to the same calculation, there were 643,121 U.S. cannabis arrests in 2015.

So arrests for marijuana are on the rise, even as more states legalize it.

These figures are only estimates based on the available information provided by law enforcement agencies, but represent the best current method for determining arrest rates. In addition, the FBI has ceased publishing the information about the drug arrest percentages by type of drug, making analysis even more difficult.

MPP's Morgan Fox released the following statement:

Arresting and citing more than 650,000 people a year for a substance that is objectively safer than alcohol is a travesty. Despite a steady shift in public opinion away from marijuana prohibition, and the growing number of states that are regulating marijuana like alcohol, marijuana consumers continue to be treated like criminals throughout the country. This is a shameful waste of resources and can create lifelong consequences for the people arrested. Regulating marijuana for adults creates jobs, generates tax revenue, protects consumers, and takes money away from criminals. It is time for the federal government and the rest of the states to stop ruining peoples’ lives and enact sensible marijuana policies.

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Tax and Regulate

Massachusetts Lawmakers Attempting to Repeal and Replace Legalization Law

In Massachusetts, the Joint Committee on Marijuana Policy just approved a "repeal and replace" bill that bears very little resemblance to the legalization law passed by 1.8 million voters in November.

The bill would undermine efforts to replace the unregulated market with a system of licensed businesses. It would take away the right of voters to decide on local marijuana policy, and it could impose a tax rate on marijuana that exceeds 50%. It authorizes the sharing of information with the FBI on cannabis commerce, including employees and medical patients. It also makes the Cannabis Control Commission — the entity that will regulate marijuana businesses — less unaccountable.

If you are a Massachusetts resident, please call your state representative and tell them not to vote for this bill when it is presented for a vote in the House on Thursday. We must not allow politicians to repeal and replace the will of the people, especially when their proposed changes are so flawed and misguided.

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Prohibition

National Crime Data Shows Marijuana Arrests Dropping, Still Happen More Than Once a Minute

The FBI just released its annual Crime in the United States report, detailing national crime data for 2015. According to the report, marijuana arrests are at a two decade low. This is definitely a good sign, but even one marijuana arrest is too many, and more than one marijuana arrest occurs every minute.fbi

Huffington Post reports:

...authorities in the U.S. made 643,000 arrests for marijuana-related charges in 2015 ― or about one every 49 seconds. Charges related to the drug accounted for 5.9 percent of all arrests, and about 43.2 percent of all drug arrests. 

The number of marijuana arrests has been generally decreasing since peaking in 2007. That year, police made 872,720 total arrests related to the drug, including 775,137 for possession. Just about 574,000 marijuana-related arrests in 2015 involved possession, and arrests for the sale and manufacture of the drug reached a nearly 25-year low.

...

Opponents to legalization often downplay the significance of marijuana arrests, arguing that they don’t lead to severe punishments and that a very small percentage of Americans wind up jailed for low-level marijuana offenses. 

Yet a recent report from the Drug Policy Alliance found that getting arrested for marijuana can still significantly affect a person, even though marijuana-related penalties have been scaled back in many places over recent years. 

“A marijuana arrest is no small matter,” reads the report, which also shows that most people arrested for marijuana are held in jail for a day or more. Many are also branded with a permanent criminal record, which can hurt their employment status and access to education and housing. 

Additionally, a one-year HuffPost analysis of jail deaths found that several inmates arrested on a marijuana offense died behind bars.

Such arrests are also costly ― authorities spend approximately $3.6 billion annually enforcing laws against marijuana possession, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

With five states considering initiatives to regulate marijuana like alcohol in November, another three voting on medical marijuana initiatives, and lobbying efforts planned in dozens of states next year, we could start to see those numbers drop even more in the coming years. There is still much work to do.

 

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Prohibition||Tax and Regulate

Texas Marijuana Bills Moving Forward

It has been a good week for marijuana policy reform in the Lone Star State.

On Monday, the House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence approved HB 507, a bill that removes the threat of arrest, jail time, and a criminal record for possession of small amounts of marijuana — replacing them with a civil fine of up to $250. The measure will now advance to the Calendars Committee to be scheduled for a vote by the Texas House.Seal_of_Texas.svg

Last night, the same committee approved a bill that would end marijuana prohibition in the state by a vote of 5-2. HB 2165, introduced in March by Rep. David Simpson (R-Longview), would strike references to marijuana offenses from Texas statutes, resulting in marijuana being treated similarly to other legal crops.
Under current Texas law, individuals found with less than two ounces of marijuana can be arrested, jailed for up to six months, and fined up to $2,000.
According to FBI data, there were 72,150 arrests or citations issued for marijuana-related offenses in Texas in 2012, 97% of which were for simple possession. That same year, nearly 90% of all burglaries, including home invasions, and 88% of all motor vehicle thefts went unsolved.

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Prohibition||Research

FBI Study Shows Marijuana Arrests Continue at Near Record Levels Despite Changing National Attitudes

Marijuana arrests continued at near record levels in 2012, and the vast majority of them were for simple possession. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s annual Uniform Crime Report,FBI army an estimated 749,824 arrests were made nationwide for marijuana, more than 87% of which were for possession. This is a slight decrease from 2011. Marijuana arrests accounted for nearly half of all drug arrests last year.

The report also noted that 59.9% of rapes, 53.2% of all violent crimes, and 81% of property crimes reported in 2012 were unsolved or did not result in arrest.

The full report is available here: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2012/crime-in-the-u.s.-2012

These results show that one person is arrested for marijuana possession every 48 seconds on average in the United States. A Pew Research Poll released in April reported that a majority of Americans think marijuana should be taxed and regulated in a manner similar to alcohol.

In a nutshell, we continue to waste billions of dollars arresting and prosecuting people for using a substance that is safer than alcohol, which most Americans think should be legal, and allow huge numbers of violent attacks and property crimes to go unanswered and unpunished. And we do this year after year. The only bright side is that arrest numbers, while still unacceptably high, appear to be dropping.

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Prohibition

FBI Study Shows Marijuana Arrests Do Not Deter Use

Marijuana arrests continued at disturbing levels in 2011, the vast majority of which were for simple possession. According to the FBI’s annual Uniform Crime Report, 757,969 arrests were made nationwide for marijuana, more than 87% of which were for possession. This is a slight decrease from 2010.  Marijuana arrests accounted for slightly less than half of all drug arrests last year.

In 2011, one American was arrested for marijuana possession every 42 seconds.

Despite intensive law enforcement resources being used to arrest and punish marijuana users, rates of marijuana use continue to rise. The “National Survey on Drug Use and Health” -- commissioned by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and released in late September -- showed that marijuana use had slightly increased nationally between 2010 and 2011. According to the report, more than 29.7 million people aged 12 and older used marijuana at least once in the past year.

“It’s obvious that decades of law enforcement efforts have failed to reduce the availability or use of marijuana.  Arresting one American for marijuana possession every 42 seconds is an exercise in futility, especially when one considers that marijuana is safer than alcohol,” said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C. “A business that continues to employ bad policies will eventually fail, but taxpayers are being forced to continually bail out the fiscally irresponsible and morally bankrupt institution of marijuana prohibition. A majority of Americans are tired of this nightmare.  It’s time for politicians to regulate marijuana like alcohol.”

A Rasmussen poll in May showed that 56% of voters supported removing criminal penalties for adult marijuana use and instead taxing and regulating the substance in a manner similar to alcohol. In November, voters in Colorado, Washington, and Oregon will have the opportunity to end marijuana prohibition in their states.

While the graph below may look like an improvement, it is important to remember several things:
1) Marijuana arrests account for 50% of all drug arrests.
2) 86% of all marijuana arrests are for simple possession.
3) This means that 43% of all drug arrests are for marijuana possession.
4) Arresting 655,416 people in one year for possession of a plant that is demonstrably safer than legal alcohol is indefensible.
We must also remember that this number can easily start to climb again if we do not continue to work for reform. Please do your part to help cut marijuana arrests dramatically next year and donate whatever you can to support Amendment 64 in Colorado. There is only one week left until the election, and every little bit helps convince voters who are still undecided. Together, we can help Colorado become the first place in the world to make marijuana legal!

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Prohibition||Tax and Regulate

FBI: 750,000 People Arrested for Simple Marijuana Possession. And For What?

The FBI released their annual Uniform Crime Report yesterday, and the results are anything but surprising. Across the country, people continue to be arrested for marijuana-related violations at an alarming rate, despite the steadily decreasing stigma associated with it and increasing efforts at reforming our irrational marijuana laws. And guess what? It still isn’t working. Our esteemed leaders claim otherwise, even while admitting that they need to change their tactics!

Over the past year, the Obama administration stated that the “war on drugs” is over, and that the government was going to shift its focus away from law enforcement and interdiction and instead put more effort toward public health and education with regard to drugs. At a press conference just last week, Office of National Drug Control Policy director Gil Kerlikowske stated that we cannot arrest our way out of the drug problem.

If these statements are true, then how do they justify the arrests of more than 853,000 people for marijuana-related violations in 2010? That’s one person arrested every 19 seconds! The Drug Czar maintains that law enforcement protocols are still considered a useful tool for eliminating suppliers and dealers as a way to decrease overall use.

Okay, that seems like it makes sense. So how many of those 853,000 arrests were for sale or manufacture of marijuana? The answer is just over 103,000. That means that more than 750,000 people were arrested last year for simple possession! A remarkably small number of people who may have distributed marijuana were arrested last year, along with three quarters of a million simple users, in an effort to curb marijuana use nationwide.

Were those people “useful tools” in preventing marijuana use? Absolutely not. According to the government’s own data, marijuana use actually increased last year.

Now, we’ve seen that Kerlikowske is correct when he says that we can’t arrest our way out of this “problem.” We can see that arresting people for marijuana, even for marijuana sales, has no effect on marijuana use rates. This glaringly obvious fact makes such statements from the federal government even more confusing, given their continued trend of upholding the status quo at all costs.

Let’s look at some slightly more disturbing aspects of this report.

Arrests for simple marijuana possession accounted for 5.7% of all arrests in 2010! That is a significant percentage of our law enforcement efforts devoted to punishing people for a victimless crime. It seems that there are better ways to use those resources, especially considering that there were more arrests for marijuana possession than for all violent crimes. How many violent acts occurred last year that did not result in an arrest? How many rapes and murders went unsolved due to lack of funds or personnel?

The Obama administration has repeatedly claimed that we need to rethink our approach to drug problems. If it really means this, it needs to seriously consider the most obvious starting point: taxing and regulating marijuana for adults. It is time we stop spending billions of dollars ruining people’s lives in a vain attempt to prevent them from using a plant that humans have used safely for thousands of years.

 

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Prohibition||Tax and Regulate

Marijuana Use Increases While Arrests Approach Record Levels

Marijuana arrests accounted for more than half of all U.S. drug arrests in 2009, while its use among Americans increased by 8 percent, according to two reports released this week by government officials.

According to the FBI’s 2009 Uniform Crime Report released yesterday, U.S. law enforcement made 858,408 arrests on marijuana charges — 88 percent of which were for possession, not sale or manufacture.  Marijuana arrests peaked in 2007 at more than 872,000, and witnessed a slight dip in 2008 at 847,863.

In 2009, an American was arrested on marijuana charges every 37 seconds.

Meanwhile, an annual report released today by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health showed that 16.7 million Americans had used marijuana in the past month.

“It’s now more obvious than ever that decades of law enforcement efforts have absolutely failed to reduce marijuana’s use or availability, and that it’s simply an exercise in futility to continue arresting hundreds of thousands of Americans for using something that’s safer than alcohol,” said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement. “Rather than criminalize millions of otherwise law-abiding citizens and waste billions of dollars that could be better spent combating violent crime and other real threats to public safety, it’s time we embrace sensible marijuana policies that would regulate marijuana the same way we do alcohol or tobacco.”

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Prohibition

Marijuana Arrests Drop for First Time Since 2002

Sep 14, 2009 Kate Zawidzki

arrests, drug war, FBI, law enforcement, NSDUH

Handcuffs_1_med

U.S. marijuana arrests declined somewhat in 2008, according to figures released by the FBI today. According to the just-released Uniform Crime Reports, U.S. law enforcement made 847,863 arrests on marijuana charges last year, 89 percent of which were for possession, not sale or manufacture – more arrests for marijuana possession than for all violent crimes combined. One American was arrested on marijuana charges every 37 seconds.

Marijuana arrests peaked in 2007 at over 872,000, capping five years of all-time record arrests.

The new report comes on the heels of the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, released Sept. 10, which showed an increase in both the number and percentage of Americans who admit having used marijuana. In  2003, when marijuana arrests set what was then an all-time record of 755,186, 40.6 percent of Americans aged 12 and over said they had used marijuana. In 2008, that figure was 41 percent, or 102,404,000 Americans willing to tell government survey-takers that they had used marijuana.

Apparently, massive numbers of arrests didn’t curb marijuana use.

“This slight dip in the number of marijuana arrests provides a small amount of relief to the tens of millions of American marijuana consumers who have been under attack by their own government for decades,” said Marijuana Policy Project executive director Rob Kampia in a statement issued by MPP today. “It’s time to stop wasting billions of tax dollars criminalizing responsible Americans for using a substance that’s safer than alcohol, and to put an end to policies that simply hand this massive consumer market to unregulated criminals.”

To put that arrest figure in perspective, it’s equivalent to arresting every man, woman and child in the city of San Francisco – plus about 23,000 more people from nearby suburbs – in just one year. Do you feel safer?

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