Pot Smokers Arrested In America At A Rate Of One Every 41 Seconds
Police arrested an estimated 771,608 persons for marijuana violations
in 2004, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's annual Uniform Crime
Report, released today. The total is the highest ever recorded by the FBI, and
comprised 44.2 percent of all drug arrests in the United States.
"These numbers belie the myth that police do not target and arrest minor
marijuana offenders," said NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre, who
noted that at current rates, a marijuana smoker is arrested every 41 seconds
in America. "This effort is a tremendous waste of criminal justice resources
that diverts law enforcement personnel away from focusing on serious and violent
crime, including the war on terrorism."
Of those charged with marijuana violations, 89 percent - some 684,319 Americans
- were charged with possession only. The remaining 87,289 individuals were charged
with "sale/manufacture," a category that includes all cultivation
offenses - even those where the marijuana was being grown for personal or medical
use. In past years, approximately 30 percent of those arrested were age 19 or
"Present policies have done little if anything to decrease marijuana's
availability or dissuade youth from trying it," St. Pierre said, noting
that a majority of young people in the U.S. now report that they have easier
access to pot than alcohol or tobacco.
The total number of marijuana arrests in the U.S. for 2004 far exceeded
the total number of arrests in the U.S. for all violent crimes combined, including
murder, manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault.
Marijuana arrests have more than doubled since 1993.
"Arresting adults who smoke marijuana responsibly needlessly destroys
the lives of tens of thousands of otherwise law abiding citizens each year,"
St. Pierre said, adding that over 8 million Americans have been arrested on
marijuana charges in the past decade. During this same time, arrests for cocaine
and heroin have declined sharply, indicating that increased enforcement of marijuana
laws is being achieved at the expense of enforcing laws against the possession
and trafficking of more dangerous drugs.
St. Pierre concluded that "with nearly 17 million citizens arrested on
marijuana-related charges since 1965, is now not the time for the state and
federal governments to finally consider legally controlling marijuana via taxation?
Is not such a public policy preferable to the current one where government arrests
an extraordinary amount of citizens for an adult behavior that is not deviant,
or, for that matter, dissimilar than consuming products that contain alcohol?"
YEAR MARIJUANA ARRESTS