The FBI released their crime and arrest statistics for 2012 today and, despite the fact that a majority of Americans believe that marijuana should be legalized, the total marijuana related arrests in the United States is largely unchanged year over year.
In 2012, marijuana arrests as a percentage of all drug arrests dipped very slightly from 49.5% in 2011 to 48.3% last year. This puts the total number of marijuana arrests at about 749,825 (compared to 757,969 arrests in 2011). 87% of these arrests were for possession only, meaning that about 658,231 Americans were forced into handcuffs last year for nothing more than simple possession. Another 91,593 were arrested for sale or manufacturing charges.
That means a marijuana consumer is arrested for possession every 48 seconds. In the time it took you to read this short blog post, another marijuana consumer was taken to jail. Meanwhile, the occurrences of violent crime ticked up to 1,214,462 reported incidents, an increase of 0.7% over 2011 totals.
You can view the FBI Crime Report for 2012 here.
Intuit Quickbooks is currently running a contest, with the grand prize being a professionally produced ad run during the big game this year. The first round of the contest is public voting and we are pleased to say NORML, after just a few short days, has skyrocketed to the #6 most popular submission.
Together, we the people, are ending America’s war on pot. With the last election and with the recent announcement from the attorney general in Washington DC, we are beautifully positioned to make sure a responsible, adult American citizen is never again arrested for the use of recreational marijuana.
But this doesn’t just happen. Please take a moment of your time to support our campaign to bring the message of legalization to the masses during the most watched TV program of the year.
The voting process is simple. Click the link below and you will be taken to NORML’s entry. Click “Vote for Us” and you’re done (no login, no Facebook connect). Then share with your family and friends via your social media pages. Don’t forget that you can vote once a day. Together we can make marijuana legalization a topic of conversation at every game watching party across the country!
If you vote, we will win.
Speaking today before the US Senate Judiciary Committee, Deputy Attorney General James Cole reaffirmed that the Justice Department is unlikely to challenge statewide marijuana legalization efforts, provided that these efforts impose “robust regulations” which discourage sales to minors and seek to prevent the diversion of cannabis to states that have not yet legalized its use.
“We will not … seek to preempt state ballot initiatives,” Cole told members of the Committee, adding that state “decriminalization [laws] can co-exist with federal [drug] laws.”
In an August 29 Department of Justice memorandum, Deputy Attorney General Cole previously directed the US Attorneys in all 50 states not to interfere with the implementation of state marijuana regulations, unless such activities specifically undermined eight explicit federal law enforcement priorities.
In response to a question from Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Cole also stated that federal prosecutors should utilize similar discretion and not interfere with the activities of state-compliant cannabis dispensaries, as long as their actions “are not violating any of the eight federal enforcement priorities” outlined here. Rhode Island is one of six states, as well as Washington, DC, that presently licenses the production and distribution of medical cannabis. Six additional states are expected to enact similar licensing regulations in the coming months.
Several Senators and witnesses questioned whether the Justice Department would consider amending federal financial regulations which presently inhibit state-compliant cannabis businesses from taking standardized tax deductions and partnering with conventional financial institutions. Deputy Attorney General Cole responded that such proposed changes in law were arguably the responsibility of Congressional lawmakers, not the Justice Department.
Commenting on the hearing, NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri said, “For the first time in modern history, members of the US Congress and the Justice Department were not discussing furthering cannabis prohibition, but instead were testifying to the merits of cannabis legalization and regulation.”
Today’s hearings marked the first time that members of Congress have explicitly weighed in on the conflict between state and federal marijuana laws since voters in Colorado and Washington elected to legalize the retail production and sale of the plant this past November. The hearing was called for by Senate Judiciary Chairmen Patrick Leahy (D-VT), who acknowledged that the federal government “must have a smarter approach to marijuana policy.” Witnesses at today’s hearing also included King County, Washington Sheriff John Urquhart — a vocal supporter of the state’s new legalization law — and Jack Finlaw, Chief Legal Council for the Colorado Governor’s Office.
Archived video of today’s US Senate Judiciary hearing is online here.
Today at 2:30pm eastern, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold their first ever hearings regarding marijuana legalization and the conflict it creates between state and federal law. The hearing will be held in the Hart Senate Office Building, Room 216. You can live stream the hearing here.
The hearing was scheduled by the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT). “It is important, especially at a time of budget constraints, to determine whether it is the best use of federal resources to prosecute the personal or medicinal use of marijuana in states that have made such consumption legal,” Senator Leahy stated, “I believe that these state laws should be respected.”
In light of the recent Department of Justice memo, NORML believes these hearings can start a dialogue at the federal level that will pave the way for substantial reforms.
“Hopefully these hearings will be just the beginning of what will become a substantive conversation on how the federal government will handle states opting out of federal marijuana prohibition,” said NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri, “To ensure that the changes detailed in the recent Department of Justice memo are upheld, Congress must act to enshrine into law the ability for states to set their own policy when it comes to marijuana.”
Testifying at today’s hearing are Deputy Attorney General James Cole, King County Sheriff John Urquhart, Chief Legal Counsel to Colorado Governor Hickenlooper Jack Finlaw, and SAM founder Kevin Sabet.
In addition to viewing the hearing live online, please take a moment to contact your elected officials and urge them to support federal legislation to end marijuana prohibition. You can quickly and easily do so through NORML’s Take Action Center here. Check back here on the NORML Blog after the hearing for a summary of the proceedings.
DEA seizures of indoor and outdoor cannabis crops declined dramatically from 2011 to 2012 and are now at their lowest reported levels in nearly a decade, according to statistics released online by the federal anti-drug agency.
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s 2012 Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Statistical Report, the total number of cannabis plants eradicated nationwide fell 42 percent between 2011 and 2012. This continues a trend, as DEA crop seizures previously fell 35 percent nationwide from 2010 to 2011.
In 2010, the DEA eliminated some 10.3 million cultivated pot plants. (This figure excludes the inclusion of feral hemp plants, tens of millions of which are also typically seized and destroyed by DEA agents annually, but are no longer categorized in their reporting.) By 2011, this total had dipped to 6.7 million. For 2012, the most recent year for which DEA data is available, the total fell to 3.9 million — the lowest annual tally in nearly a decade.
The declining national figures are largely a result of reduced plant seizures in California. Coinciding largely with the downsizing of, and then ultimately the disbanding of, the state’s nearly 30-year-old Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP) program, DEA-assisted marijuana seizures in the Golden State have fallen 73 percent since 2010 — from a near-record 7.4 million cultivated pot plants eradicated in 2010 to approximately 2 million in 2012. DEA-assisted cannabis eradication efforts have remained largely unchanged in other leading grow states during this same period.
The DEA’s 2012 Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Statistical Report is available online here.