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Incarceration Nation — Marijuana Arrests For Year 2009 Near Record High

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director September 15, 2010

    [Editor’s note: This post is excerpted from NORML’s weekly media advisory. To have NORML’s media advisories delivered straight to your in-box, sign up for NORML’s free e-zine here.]

    Police prosecuted 858,408 persons for marijuana violations in 2009, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s annual Uniform Crime Report, released today. The arrest total is the second highest ever reported by the FBI, and marks a 1.3 percent increase in the number of arrests reported in 2008 (847,864).

    According to the report, marijuana arrests now comprise more than one-half (approximately 52 percent) of all drug arrests reported in the United States. A decade ago, marijuana arrests comprised just 44 percent of all drug arrests.

    Approximately forty-six percent of all drug prosecutions nationwide are for marijuana possession.

    “The numbers tell the story; the enforcement of criminal marijuana laws and the prosecution of marijuana offenders, in particular minor marijuana possession defendants, is driving the present drug war,” NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said. “Those who claim otherwise would be better off advocating for a long-overdue reprioritization law enforcement resources and concerns.

    “It makes no sense to continue to prosecute Americans for their use of a substance that poses far fewer health risks than alcohol or tobacco. A better and more sensible solution would be to legalize and regulate cannabis in a manner similar to alcohol, as is presently being proposed in California by Proposition 19.”

    Of those charged with marijuana violations, approximately 88 percent (758,593 Americans) were charged with possession only. The remaining 99,815 individuals were charged with “sale/manufacture,” a category that includes virtually all cultivation offenses.

    Regionally, the percentage of marijuana arrests was highest in the Midwest (62 percent of all drug arrests) and southern regions (56 percent of all drug arrests) of the United States, and lowest in the west, where pot prosecutions comprised only 40 percent of total drug arrests.

    In 2007, the FBI reported 872,721 marijuana prosecutions in the United States, the highest total on record.

    86 Responses to “Incarceration Nation — Marijuana Arrests For Year 2009 Near Record High”

    1. […] clear our intention to see marijuana legalized and regulated along the lines of alcohol, law enforcement comes down harder and harder on nonviolent, low-level […]

    2. […] clear our intention to see marijuana legalized and regulated along the lines of alcohol, law enforcement comes down harder and harder on nonviolent, low-level offenders. There is hope. Seattle, whose voters in 2003 made minor […]

    3. shiloh says:

      Every one who ever went through a drug program was told the that insane was to keep on doing the same while expecting a different out come. As you go along feeling good about yourself looking down on pot heads while your children are dying on legal drugs.
      How many of you are so ashamed of your kids as you raise your grandchildren. So ashamed that you say nothing as they come in and out of your grandchildren life showing them the ins and outs of doing their drug of choose. I know a woman that son got addicted, she raised her grand daughter. She grew up to know same dealer and now her granny is raising her great grand child.
      You keep your secrets and maybe all of them will die soon. Their children are being born with problems that will fill up our jails. To rob, kill, rape means nothing to these people.
      We all love our children but as a group none are protecting the young. There is a point when the truth must be told. Everything I was ever told was a lie.

    4. […] clear our intention to see marijuana legalized and regulated along the lines of alcohol, law enforcement comes down harder and harder on nonviolent, low-level offenders. There is hope. Seattle, whose voters in 2003 made minor […]

    5. Gabby says:

      My husband and me were busted for weed in 2010. This July it will be a year and we are still going thru bull.

    6. […] be sure, considering that most of the hard data on marijuana use comes from a survey conducted by the very government who throws nearly a million people in jail every year for smoking pot), it seems odd to me that anyone who doesn’t live under a fucking rock would […]

    7. MissMandy says:

      You know…I think that now is the time. We are facing a landmark election, where both sides of the debate (and how messed up is it that we only have two sides!?) stand to gain by supporting hemp and marijuana law reform. Here’s a way to cut federal spending that hasn’t been fully explored.The republicans, the tea party anyway, is all for shrinking the reach of the federal governement, and the dems can’t come out hardlining the issue without abondoning their base. Both sides need to create a viable jobs solution by cutting government spending while creating jobs. Presented correctly I would like to see this issue hit the mainstream under the title of Job Creation.

    8. Anonymous says:

      this is why we need to have a nation-wide demonstration thats going to tell the federal government “ENOUGH”. every stoner, supporter, and sympathizer needs to grab an O and walk down to D.C. and demand the ‘change’ that was supposed to happen. When will you realize that weed wont be legalized unless the feds are backed up into a corner. The fact is we need to force it through. we shouldnt be afraid of the government. the government should be afraid of us.

    9. DEA=ball-sniffers says:

      this is why we need to have a nation-wide demonstration thats going to tell the federal government “ENOUGH”. every stoner, supporter, and sympathizer needs to grab an O and walk down to D.C. and demand the ‘change’ that was supposed to happen. When will you realize that weed wont be legalized unless the feds are backed up into a corner. The fact is we need to force it down these bastard’s throats. we shouldnt be afraid of the government. the government should be afraid of us. you want it THAT BADLY? get your ass up off the couch and TAKE IT

    10. […] billions of dollars a year, while arrests for simple possession are still made in staggering numbers — over 850,000 in 2009 and showing no signs of slowing down. So who is for and against […]

    11. BenjaminBrubaker says:

      I wonder how this compares to other countries. Say, the UK or Spain…or Australia. How do we compare to other countries, that keep (somewhat) reliable statistics?

    12. […] Freedoms Violated Nearly half of drug possession arrests in the United States last year were for marijuana possession charges. For decades statistics show a […]

    13. thepinch says:

      I am over 20 years’ clean and sober. This means I no longer smoke pot. That does not mean, however, that everybody else should not smoke pot. Most of my life I have failed to understand why good people without my problems can’t go out and smoke reefer. It’s cheaper to grow than tobacco and it’s less dangerous than tobacco. The Liberal Party of Canada is finally making noises that will legalize it. Considering your President and a number of your former Presidents are former cokeheads, I personally don’t see what the big deal is. And it is a crime that all those good people are behind bars or carrying records. Good luck, potheads!

    14. […] the mid 1960′s, the war on marijuana users has grown exponentially with an average 2 arrests per hour in 1965 nation wide, to 97.5 an hour in 2010.  Approximately 52 […]

    15. Anonymous says:

      i thike it crazy wow wow people can not stay i of jail

    16. Happy says:

      Well..there are a lot of laws out there that people more less abide by while a lot of people do not, more or less, abide by.
      I am not prohibitionist at all.
      However, while the numerous available non essential recreational intoxicants are deemed as illegal those people that do not abide by the current laws will have to suffer the ramifications.
      ALL people who get caught breaking any of the numerous laws they do get caught breaking are not happy about having to face the consequences of breaking the laws when they get caught.
      Those same people would want the laws changed so they do not have to face the law or laws they have broken.
      They also do not consider themselves to be law breakers and consider the laws to be stupid or out dated or should not exist or should be changed to suit the agenda and practices of the people that are in conflict of those laws or regulations or rules.
      Everyone is not happy about a long list of laws when they are caught violating any of those existing laws.
      Should marijuana smokers be absoved of any wrong doing when they do get caught breaking the laws???
      In the future when the present laws are removed and or substituted for legal consumption regulations and rules of consumption decorum ( which will still be backed up by various laws and various means of enforcement) …should the pot smokers be given further leniency and be further absolved of any enforcements of the regulations or laws???
      When the violators are repeatedly revealed or caught violating the regulations can we expect them to cooperate with the regulations and the laws that enforce the regulations???
      I would say NOT as nearly 60 years of wide spread marijuana consumption has proven that the drug users will continue to violate the rules and or the regulations and or any laws that enforce the rules and regulations related to the supply and consumption of Marijuana.
      All to many ( a whole lot of them actually) will continue to ignore and or violate any rules and or regulations that impede or curb or restrict the insistant consumption of their beloved intoxicant called marijuana.
      While they are continuing to break those rules and regulations they will still be trying to absolve themselves of any wrong doing or culpability when they “do” get caught breaking them.
      They will still be arguing that alcohol and the other drugs are more liable and dangerous while arguing that marijuana has never killed anyone and marijuana is a harmless drug and no one should go to jail for smoking marijuana or selling marijuana. In their minds there should be no laws connected to marijuana consumption while they would certainly continue to break the existing rules and regulations and violate the laws pertaining to legal marijuana supply and consumption.
      In the minds of the POT HEADS there will always be “prohibition” if any person who consumes marijuana has to consume the drug
      (intoxicant) while having to be subjected to any “disagreed” government rules or regulations or laws.
      Because, when they do get caught and have to face the law(s) and or accept the penalties for breaking or violating any of the rules and regulations of legal pot consumption they will still be arguing it is the existing rules and regulations of legal pot consumption that is causing the problems…not them and or their violation(s) of the rules and regulations…as is the mentality and mind set of all people who get caught breaking any number of rules and regulations and laws that they ignore or refuse to conform to.
      The merry go round mentality of pot consumption will continue unabated…this you can be assured of.

    17. Happy says:

      Well..there are a lot of laws out there that people more orless abide by while a lot of people do not, more or less, abide by.
      I am not prohibitionist at all.
      However, while the numerous available non essential recreational intoxicants are deemed as illegal those people that do not abide by the current laws will have to suffer the ramifications.
      ALL people who get caught breaking any of the numerous laws they do get caught breaking are not happy about having to face the consequences of breaking the laws when they get caught.
      Those same people would want the laws changed so they do not have to face the and accept the penalities.
      They also do not consider themselves to be law breakers and consider the laws to be stupid or out dated or should not exist or should be changed to suit the agenda and practices of the people that are in conflict of those laws or regulations or rules.
      Everyone is not happy about a long list of laws when they are caught violating any of those existing laws.
      Should marijuana smokers be absoved of any wrong doing when they do get caught breaking the laws???
      In the future when the present laws are removed and or substituted for legal consumption regulations and rules of consumption decorum ( which will still be backed up by various laws and various means of enforcement) …should the pot smokers be given further leniency and be further absolved of any enforcements of the regulations or laws???
      When the violators are repeatedly revealed or caught violating the regulations can we expect them to cooperate with the regulations and the laws that enforce the regulations???
      I would say NOT as nearly 60 years of wide spread marijuana consumption has proven that the drug users will continue to violate the rules and or the regulations and or any laws that enforce the rules and regulations related to the supply and consumption of Marijuana.
      All to many ( a whole lot of them actually) will continue to ignore and or violate any rules and or regulations that impede or curb or restrict the insistant consumption of their beloved intoxicant called marijuana.
      While they are continuing to break those rules and regulations they will still be trying to absolve themselves of any wrong doing or culpability when they “do” get caught breaking them.
      They will still be arguing that alcohol and the other drugs are more liable and dangerous while arguing that marijuana has never killed anyone and marijuana is a harmless drug and no one should go to jail for smoking marijuana or selling marijuana. In their minds there should be no laws connected to marijuana consumption while they would certainly continue to break the existing rules and regulations and violate the laws pertaining to legal marijuana supply and consumption.
      In the minds of the POT HEADS there will always be “prohibition” if any person who consumes marijuana has to consume the drug
      (intoxicant) while having to be subjected to any “disagreed” government rules or regulations or laws.
      Because, when they do get caught and have to face the law(s) and or accept the penalties for breaking or violating any of the rules and regulations of legal pot consumption they will still be arguing it is the existing rules and regulations of legal pot consumption that is causing the problems…not them and or their violation(s) of the rules and regulations…as is the mentality and mind set of all people who get caught breaking any number of rules and regulations and laws that they ignore or refuse to conform to.
      The merry go round mentality of pot consumption will continue unabated…this you can be assured of.

    18. […] to support Posner’s uneasiness about marijuana restrictions. In 2009, 858,408 Americans were arrested for marijuana violations — 758,593 of them, or 88 percent, for possession […]

    19. […] seem to support Posner’s worry about pot restrictions. In 2009, 858,408 Americans were arrested for pot violations — 758,593 of them, or 88 percent, for possession […]

    20. […] appear to support Posner's uneasiness about marijuana restrictions. In 2009, 858,408 Americans were arrested for marijuana violations — 758,593 of them, or 88 percent, for possession […]

    21. […] to support Posner’s uneasiness about marijuana restrictions. In 2009, 858,408 Americans were arrested for marijuana violations — 758,593 of them, or 88 percent, for possession […]

    22. […] to support Posner’s uneasiness about marijuana restrictions. In 2009, 858,408 Americans were arrested for marijuana violations — 758,593 of them, or 88 percent, for possession […]

    23. […] citizens for minor offenses such as marijuana possession. In 2009, police forces across America prosecuted over 850,000 individuals for possession or use of marijuana, according to the FBI’s annual […]

    24. Lynn says:

      Sign a real petition and save our government some money!!
      Please Share this message to find more people who can sign.
      https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/relieve-five-elderly-federal-prisoners-life-without-parole-sentences-marijuana/nRkGWXx6

    25. […] industry could help turn their economies around. Providing additional revenue, while saving the needless expenditure of recreational pot […]

    26. […] peaks and valleys of our humanity. In the wake of September 11, 2001, the interminable wars on drugs, poverty, and immigration, growing income inequality, the partisan and hyperbolic media […]

    27. […] since 2009, over 3 million people have been arrested in the US for marijuana—a drug the President himself has admitted to consuming for years of his […]

    28. stayoutofit.com says:

      happy needs to smoke one and chill. #1 86.5 people per hour are arrested in the u.s for marijuana related crimes. 858,500 prosecutions for pot alone.thats ALOT of MONEY saved. #2 most intelligent people know this country is broke ass and NEEDS new MONEY. look at cnn pushing the hell out of legalization. the gov pushes them to push it. MONEY. same sex marriage, legalization and taxation of marijuana.. both great things in my opinion, but its all about the MONEY

    29. stayoutofit.com says:

      i will have to do some research but i dont think its so much the pot heads pushing for legalization as the government. however, the majority of colorado’s voters approved of legalization.

    30. stayoutofit.com says:

      does that mean more then half the voting population is made up of pot heads happy?

    31. Cops Lie says:

      Holy Christ!!! 10 plant in NJ is 10 year mandatory sentence. The governor in PA said anything they pass in senate i will veto. But he is hated and the new election is next year in 2014 the poles say he will lose. i just have find who support legalization for the next governor. Im thinking 3 years it will legal in PA.

    32. […] that cannabis prohibition is not good for the country. After all, it isn’t very effective, it adds to our massive prison population, it costs us a ton of money both in spending and potential revenue, and is being used […]

    33. […] millions more have had their lives ruined by it. A major reason for this is the war on Marijuana. Over half of all drug arrests are due to Marijuana. The creation of a massive underground black market encourages both consumers & dealers, who […]

    34. […] since 2009, over 3 million people have been arrested in the US for marijuana—a drug the President himself has admitted to consuming for years of his […]

    35. […] voters think pot should be legal if not decriminalized. And with good reason: More than half (52 percent) of drug arrests are for marijuana. This is a drug proven to be less harmful with fewer health […]

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