872,721 marijuana arrests in 2007, up 5.2% from 2006

  • by NORML September 15, 2008

    By Russ Belville, NORML Stash

    Record Number Of Americans Arrested For Marijuana

    The FBI has released its annual report on Crime in the United States 2007. Once again, the number of people in the United States arrested for marijuana has gone up. 872,721 Americans were arrested for marijuana in 2007, and of those arrests, 89% or 775,138 were arrests for simple possession – not buying, selling, trafficking, or manufacture (growing).

    US Arrests Chart
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    This represents an increase in marijuana arrests of 5.2% from the previous year and the fifth straight year marijuana arrests have increased from the previous year. Now a marijuana smoker is arrested at the rate of 1 every 37 seconds and almost 100 marijuana arrests per hour.

    Marijuana possession is increasingly the bulk of the “War on Drugs”

    More arrests for marijuana are for simple possession than for any other drug. While only 11% of marijuana arrests involve buying, selling, trafficking, or manufacture, that rate for heroin and cocaine is 27% and that rate for synthetic drugs is 31%.

    While arrests for marijuana sales/manufacturing increased by 7.6% over 2006, heroin and cocaine sale/manufacturing arrests dropped by 3.8% and synthetic drugs sales/manufacturing arrests dropped 2.6%.

    While arrests for marijuana possession rose by 4.9%, heroin and cocaine possession arrests fell by 8.1% and synthetic drugs possession arrests fell by 5.4%.

    Overall, while arrests for marijuana increased by 5.2%, arrests for all other drugs combined dropped from 1,060,183 to 968,461, a decline of 8.7%. Last year, marijuana arrests made up 43.9% of all drug arrests. This year, marijuana accounts for 47.4% of all drug arrests. Almost half of the war on drugs is waged on marijuana.

    The West is the Best

    The FBI breaks their data down into four regions: Northeast, Midwest, South, And West. Arrests for marijuana make up more than half of all drug arrests in two out of four regions and almost half in a third. The Midwest leads the charge with 60.8% of its drug arrests for marijuana, followed by the South with 52.5% of its arrests and the Northeast with 49.9% of its arrests. In the West, marijuana arrests only make up a little more than one-third of the drug arrest total at 34.3%.

    This is the first time most of the country is dedicating most of its drug arrests toward marijuana. In the previous year, only the Midwest, at 57%, surpassed 50%, with the South coming in at 49.8%, the Northeast at 47.9%, and the West at 30%.

    Accounting for population of these regions, marijuana users in the South are most at risk, where there are 318 marijuana possession arrests for every 100,000 Southerners. Midwesterners face a 292-to-100,000 ratio, in the Northeast it is 225-to-100,000, and only 201 per 100,000 Westerners are arrested for marijuana possession.

    Over past five years, more arrests for marijuana than all violent crime combined

    Perhaps most disturbing is comparing marijuana arrests to violent crime. This year, while 775,138 Americans were arrested for mere marijuana possession, only 597,447 people were arrested for all violent crimes combined, which includes murder, non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault.

    While the percentage of marijuana possession arrests rose by 5.2%, arrests for violent crime dropped by 2.3% from the previous year. Now, to be fair, the reported incidents of violent crime did show a slight decrease of 0.7%, from 1,417,745 in 2006 to 1,408,337 in 2007, but that’s only a decrease of 9,408 offenses, compared to a decrease of 14,076 arrests for those offenses.

    Over the past five years, there have been more arrests every year for marijuana possession than for all violent crime combined. Over those five years, murders have increased 2.3% and robberies have increased 7.5%. Overall, there were 24,661 more violent crimes in 2007 than in 2003, yet there were only 421 more arrests for violent crime in 2007 compared to 2003. This year there were only 424 arrests for every 1000 violent crimes, which is 7-to-10 fewer arrests per 1000 than each of the previous four years.

    Ten Year Trend

    Over the past ten years, arrests for just about every crime have declined. Arrests for all violent crimes have dropped by 8.9% and property crime arrests declined 12.5%. Many other miscellaneous crime arrests have seen double-digit percentage declines, like fraud (-30.8%), prostitution (-22%), and offenses against family and children (-16.9%). Meanwhile, in that ten years, the only crimes for which arrests have gone up are robbery (+5.9%), drug law violations (+17.6%), and embezzlement (+26.5%).

    38 responses to “872,721 marijuana arrests in 2007, up 5.2% from 2006”

    1. Ray says:

      Good thing Waters had his press conference announcing the latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health BEFORE this was released.


      According to him only unicorns get arrested for possession, he’ll buy you a steak dinner if you can find someone arrested for possession

    2. Paul Hood says:

      It sure is convenient that table 29 at http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2007/data/table_29.html groups all “Drug Abuse Violations” as one number. One more way to hide the truth regarding marijuana possession arrest figures. Marijuana possession arrests = “The Gravy Train of Law Enforcement Funding!”

      I was watching “Busted” on MTV a couple nights ago. There was a young man riding a bicycle late at night down a residential street in small town USA. The police woman (fat and full of “authority”) tells the camera she will stop the cyclist and see if she can “find some drugs on him”. Of course she first tells him of all the night time bicycle violations he is committing in a “friendly” manner. At the end of the meaningless chastisement she asks if she can search this totally coherent person. He says OK. She asks if he has anything on him she should no about, like drugs, needles or knives. He says “no”. She proceeds to find an empty pipe in his coat pocket that he forgot about. Now she starts calling him a liar even though he told her he simply forgot about the pipe and had not used the coat in some time. She did not arrest him but instead sets him up for a court date to address an infraction notice she issues. She explains he MUST show up or a warrant for his arrest will be issued for him. Also, at court he will most likely be sentenced to some kind of drug violation “punishment”. WHAT A WASTE OF TAXPAYERS MONEY! This kind of thing is happening almost every minute of the day… “The Gravy Train of Law Enforcement Funding!”

      I was stopped in Bellevue, WA back in “95” for a glitchy turn signal (which I was aware of) on my 89 Cadillac. A scenario of the same kind mentioned above played out but with more drama. Such as calling a drug sniffing K-9 unit and four more regular police units to control this situation involving a cooperative, suit wearing, 30 year old salesman. Instead of being sent through the court system I was arrested, taken downtown, detained for hours (missing a very important business meeting), and booked for possession of drug paraphernalia then released. The Taxpayers got reamed for many hours of multiple police unit’s and jail personnel’s time that day ” The Gravy Train of Law Enforcement Funding”. Bellevue’s residents felt much safer after that display of “law enforcement”… NOT! What a waste!

    3. The Oracle says:

      I’d like to hear and see famous person after powerful person over and over again in news spots that have captured candid live microphone remarks about how the fact that marijuana is still illegal is just plain bullshit. If they do not realize or care the mikes are on then I would love for the public to get the point. To catch some of the top narcs like Walters, Biden, McCain, Califano and whoever else knocking the very laws they are paid to support would immediately deflate all their lie–for them and those who follow them.

      Bye bye marijuana prohibition!

    4. Asemili says:

      I personally had a friend who was arrested and jailed for having 1 ROACH in his car. Not even a joint, a roach! First time offense, no prior record, lost his job, and every new employer cites his “drug record” before not hiring him. Sure he didn’t spend much time in jail, but I went there to pick him up and he was shaken BAD by the place. Wasn’t himself for a couple days at all. Plus the fact that he also lost his job, can’t get another one close to the pay grade he was at, and got saddled with fines, jail, and a record, it’s really sad.

      What’s even more sad is all the people this happens to all the time.

      John Walters continues to ignore the facts, and instead would prefer to make up his own fantasy world and describe it in detail to the public in an attempt to pass it off as reality.

    5. Nick says:

      That is more people than the population of Delaware in 2007. Arresting marijuana smokers is an epidemic. It is approaching the number of people with AIDS, but it gets hardly any attention in the media.

    6. I have blogged about the “war on people” by the war on drugs and it total futility in punishing people for self-medicating with marijuana, and that this war has led to increased violence and if it were legal it would be regulated with less violence at http://www.oklahomacriminaldefense.blogspot.com It is only a matter of time until the prohibition movement on marijuana is over-turned. One city at a time is now legalizing marijuana for personal use, whether it is Denver, Colorado, or Hailey, Idaho, or the multiple cities in Michigan (which legalize marijuana for medical reasons).
      Glen R. Graham, Tulsa Criminal Attorney, Tulsa, OK

    7. David says:

      What Mr. Walters doesn’t realize is that even if you’re not imprisoned, you face some serious consequences if you are caught with even minor amounts of marijuana. Simple possesion of under an ounce may not be enough to warrant serious jail time, but will result in even worse consequences, such as the suspension of student loans, grants, federal housing, as well as job loss or having your children taken away. The logical falacy in Mr. Walters arguement – that small time drug users are not punished – is that the consequences of having a marijuana possesion charge on your record stays with you for life, and can be worse that prison time because of job loss and future consequences. Legalization is the only way to ensure that we are protected from discrimination against marijuana users.

    8. Jan MacKay says:

      I am running for state senate in Raleigh NC. I support decriminalization of marijuana.

    9. Brinna says:

      I did the numbers on those arrest figures, and this is the skinny: If 90% of those cannabis-related arrests are for possession only, that number (785,000) is an astounding 5% of ALL arrests made in the United States for anything and everything; and this means that 5 out of every 100 police officers do nothing all day long but arrest people for cannabis possession.

      What a waste!

    10. Florida is a fascist state says:

      Who cares if it’s for selling or growing?

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