If you’re paying attention, weed is increasingly being legalized in states throughout the nation. According to Governing.com, 29 states and the District of Columbia have legalized bud in some form. However, the faulty “War On Drugs” rages on, especially with weed. According to reports, there were more arrests for cannabis in 2016 than for violent crimes.
On Monday, the FBI released its Uniform Crime Report. According to it, drug arrests increased to 1.57 million, a 5.63% increase from 2015.That’s three drug arrests every minute and three times the amount of arrests for violent crimes. In fact, drug arrests are the largest category of arrests, outpacing arrests for burglaries, DUIs or other criminal offenses.
The arrests for weed increased by 75,000 to around 653,000. That marks a 12% increase from 2015. Though the FBI did not break down the drug offenses by type of drug, the Marijuana Policy Project was able to glean those numbers by contacting the feds. However, it is not revealed how many of those arrests were for simple possession. Though the number is a stark decline from the record high of around 800,000 in 2007, the rise in 2016 is still curious considering there has been nearly a decade of decreasing arrests. “Arresting and citing nearly half a million people a year for a substance that is objectively safer than alcohol is a travesty,” said Morgan Fox, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Policy Project. 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.”
According to Salon:
Despite the lack of specific offense data, 2016 is unlikely to turn out markedly different from previous years when it comes to the mix of drug arrests. Past years typically had simple drug possession offenses accounting for 85-90 percent of all drug arrests and small-time marijuana possession arrests accounting for around 40 percent.
That means of the more than 1.5 million drug arrests last year, probably 1.3 million or so of them were not drug kingpins, major dealers, gangbangers, or cartel operatives. Instead, they were people who got caught with small amounts of drugs for personal use.
“Criminalizing drug use has devastated families across the U.S., particularly in communities of color, and for no good reason,” said executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance Maria McFarland Sánchez Moreno. “Far from helping people who are struggling with addiction, the threat of arrest often keeps them from accessing health services and increases the risk of overdose or other harms.”
Keep in mind that although Black people make up 13% of the population and use the same amount of drugs as other ethnic groups, we make up 29% of all drug arrests and 35% of all prisoners locked up for drugs.