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Drug War Rolls On With 1.5 Million Arrests Last Year

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war on drugsBy Phillip Smith

The FBI Monday released its annual Uniform Crime Report, and the numbers show that the war on drugs continues to roll right along. Despite marijuana legalization in two states and increasing public support for policy alternatives to perpetual drug war, police arrested slightly more drug offenders than the previous year, with drug arrests accounting for nearly 13% of all arrests for any offense.

The data showed 1,552,432 arrests for drug offenses last year, some 21,000 more than the previous year. Nearly half (48.3%) were marijuana offenses, down slightly from 49.5% the previous year.

That is just under three quarters of a million (749,825) pot arrests last year, down a negligible 8,000 from 2011. Some 87% of all marijuana arrests were for simple possession, meaning that 658,231 people got popped just for holding a little weed. That’s the equivalent of arresting every resident of Memphis, Boston, or Seattle. Another 91,593 were arrested for growing or selling the stuff.

Drug law violations constituted the largest number of arrests in any offense category, outstripping driving under the influence (1.28 million arrests), larceny/theft (1.28 million), simple assault (1.12 million arrests), disorderly conduct (544,000), all violent crime combined (521,000), and drunkenness (511,000). Only the number of all property crime arrests combined (1.65 million) exceeded the number of drug arrests.

The drug war juggernaut cruised on even as violent crime increased in 2012 — the first increase in six years. Violent crimes — rape, robbery, murder, aggravated assault — rose 0.7% over 2011, prompting advocates to call on law enforcement to concentrate on violent crime, not drug users.

“As a former prosecuting attorney myself, I believe it is irresponsible to squander our limited law enforcement resources on this disastrous public policy failure,” said Dan Riffle, Marijuana Policy Project federal policies director. “That is especially true when so many violent crimes remain unsolved. Every second spent arresting and prosecuting adults for marijuana is time that could have been spent preventing and solving real crimes.”

“Each one of those arrests is the story of someone who may suffer a variety of adverse effects from their interaction with the justice system,” said Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) executive director Neill Franklin, a former Maryland narcotics officer. “Commit a murder or a robbery and the government will still give you a student loan. Get convicted for smoking a joint and you’re likely to lose it.”

Article From StoptheDrugWar.org - Creative Commons Licensing - Donate

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Johnny Green

Johnny Green is no longer with The Weed Blog because he was caught redhanded stealing money from TWB and using black hat strategies to inflate pageviews to try and lure unsuspecting investors. We hope Johnny has learned from his mistakes and wish his family well.

3 Comments

  1. So, legalization for rec in 2 states and for medical in 20 has done NOTHING to stem the tide of arrests. The more things change – the more they stay the same. I think the quasi-legalized status of weed has made people “people-of-the-green” bolder, more daring and more foolhardy with their public display of smoking weed. Which in turn gets them a free ride in the back of a cop car – and the privilege of paying for violating the weed laws still on the books. We cheer (and rightly so) when another state legalizes medical cannabis. But the punitive pot laws still seem to stay on the books. We need to tie one to the other – especially so in the cases of CPS that are in the news now. I vape daily – but not in public.

  2. We shall defend God’s gift whatever the cost may be: We shall smoke in Bong County. We shall smoke on the beaches. We shall smoke on collage grounds. We shall smoke in the fields and in the streets. We shall smoke in the hills —we shall never surrender our stash! … And, even, if, which I do not for one moment believe, we were to remain subjugated and persecuted by these evil prohibitionist parasites, our enlightened friends from beyond the seas would carry on the struggle until in God’s good time the New World, with it’s re-discovered hemp based power and might, throws off her chains and steps forth to the rescue, and the liberation, of the Old!

    —Winstoned Hempchill

  3. “As a former prosecuting attorney myself, I believe it is irresponsible
    to squander our limited law enforcement resources on this disastrous
    public policy failure,” said Dan Riffle, Marijuana Policy Project federal
    policies director. “That is especially true when so many violent crimes
    remain unsolved. Every second spent arresting and prosecuting adults
    for marijuana is time that could have been spent preventing and solving
    real crimes.”

    This is the kind of talk that needs to be heard.

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