Arrests for marijuana possession have steadily declined over the past ten years. The FBI released a new statistics report on marijuana arrests; the statistics revealed that marijuana arrests are at the lowest they’ve been in twenty years.
In 2015, the number of arrests for marijuana possession was 574,641. In 2007, there were nearly 800,000 marijuana possession arrests. That means marijuana arrests have dropped by about 25 percent since ’07.
These results suggest that law enforcement officers are spending less time enforcing marijuana laws. Also, marijuana possession was decriminalized in more than a dozen states over the years. So, local PD in particular states can no longer arrest citizens for minor marijuana possession. This means officers can focus on keeping harder drugs off the streets.
52 percent of all drug arrests in 2010 were for marijuana sales and possession. In 2015, this number dropped by nearly 10 percent. Legal marijuana creates less incentive for illicit marijuana sales. As a result, law enforcers can spend more time cracking down on harder drugs.
In fact, the numbers reveal police are making more arrests for cocaine and heroin in recent years. However, there is still more than one person being arrested for marijuana possession every minute.
Advocates Criticize Marijuana Arrest Rates
As a result, supporters of drug policy reform are criticizing the high rates of marijuana arrests. The Drug Policy Alliance believes marijuana arrests are “the engine driving the U.S. war on drugs.” The Alliance also claims that “the enormous number of marijuana arrests every year usurps law enforcement, criminal justice, and treatment resources at a great cost to taxpayers.”
The number of heroin, cocaine, and non-narcotic drug arrests are rising as marijuana possession arrests decrease. Many taxpayers are happier with these results. A 2013 ACLU report estimated taxpayers spent 3.6 billion on marijuana possession enforcement.
Advocates also note disproportionate marijuana arrests. Statistics have shown, white and black Americans use marijuana about equally. However, the number of blacks arrested for marijuana possession is much greater.
The number of overall marijuana arrests is down. However, those arrested for marijuana possession still face harsh consequences. According to a report by the Drug Policy Alliance, most people arrested for marijuana spend at least one day in jail.
Additionally, many people receive criminal records for simple possession arrests. Most experts agree marijuana sentencing is too harsh. Vote for one of the nine marijuana initiatives on the ballot this November. Your vote can lead to a better use of your tax dollars, decreased opioid abuse, and keeping non-violent pot users out of prison.