One of the greatest hopes associated with the legalization of cannabis is the amount of marijuana related arrests would decrease. Less people in prison means less tax money being spent and better futures for people that do not need to contend with a criminal record.
Unfortunately, data seems to show that the amount of marijuana related arrests are increasing year-over-year. More research needs to be done as to why this is happening, but one conclusion may be that authorities are trying to crackdown on the illegal market during this transitional period and that any increase in marijuana related arrests is only temporary.
Despite spreading marijuana legalization and a growing desire for new directions in drug policy, the war on drugs continues unabated. According to the FBI’s latest Uniform Crime Report, released Monday, overall drug arrests actually increased last year to 1.57 million, a jump of 5.63 percent over 2015. The increase includes marijuana arrests, which jumped by more than 75,000 last year compared to 2015, an increase of 12 percent.
That comes out to three drug arrests every minute, day in and day out, throughout 2016. It’s also more than three times the number of people arrested for violent crimes. Drug offenses are the single largest category of crimes for which people were arrested last year, more than burglaries, DUIs or any other criminal offense.
Unlike previous years, this year’s Uniform Crime Report did not immediately make available data on specific offenses, such as drug possession or drug sales, nor did it break arrests down by type of drug, but the Marijuana Policy Project obtained marijuana arrest data by contacting the FBI. It reported some 653,000 people arrested on marijuana charges last year, although the FBI did not provide data on how many were simple possession charges.
While that figure marks a decline from historic highs a decade ago- pot arrests peaked at nearly 800,000 in 2007 – the sharp jump in pot arrests last year demands explanation, especially as it comes after a decade of near continuous declining numbers.
“Arresting and citing nearly half a million people a year for a substance that is objectively safer than alcohol is a travesty,” said MPP communications director Morgan Fox. “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.”