Marijuana Arrest Data Absent From Latest FBI Uniform Crime Report

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director September 25, 2017

    Cannabis PenaltiesTabulations calculating the percentage of annual marijuana arrests nationwide are absent from the 2017 edition of the FBI Uniform Crime Report, which the agency released today.

    The table,’Arrests for Drug Abuse Violations: Percent Distribution by Region,’ had for decades appeared in the section of the FBI report entitled ‘Persons Arrested.’ It was one of over 50 tables eliminated from this year’s edition of the Crime report. NORML had relied on the table in order to extrapolate and publicize annual marijuana arrest data, which it has tracked since 1965.

    According to the latest FBI report, police made 1,572,579 arrests for illicit drug offenses in 2016. This total represents nearly a six percent increase in arrests since 2015.

    Although data with regard to what percentage of these drug arrests were marijuana-related was absent from this year’s report, the FBI did provide percentages by request to Marijuana Majority’s Tom Angell, who summarized the data in a column for Forbes.com.

    The unpublished data estimates that police made 653,249 arrests for cannabis-related violations in 2016. Of these, 587,516 arrests (90 percent of all marijuana arrests) were for possession-related offenses.
    U.S. Annual Marijuana Arrests 1965-2016

    The arrest total is an increase from 2015 figures and marks the first year-to-year uptick in nationwide marijuana arrests in nearly a decade. The uptick comes at a time when eight states have enacted laws to regulate the adult use of cannabis and when public support for legalizing the plant is at a record high.

    “The recent uptick in the number of marijuana arrests is unprecedented in recent years, especially given the rate of state-level reform we have seen. This combined with the FBI’s disturbing change of protocol and lack of transparency in the publishing of arrest records only further demonstrates the need for state lawmakers to respect the will of the majority of their constituents and end the practice of marijuana prohibition once and for all,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal.

    19 responses to “Marijuana Arrest Data Absent From Latest FBI Uniform Crime Report”

    1. Julian says:

      Haha; “Legalization is at an all time high.”

      Seriously, though, this obstruction of Justice y the FBI requires that whats left of investigative journalism has to take its place. We have to support The Washington Post and get The Guardian to kick up “The Counted” program going again, but this time not only for police killings but marijuana arrests.

    2. Mark Mitcham says:

      Drugs. What a word. It’s so loaded, we should call it “the D-word.” (Is that taken already?)

      Marijuana is always guilty by association with something else, something scary, isn’t it? I’ve been listening to these bullshit bogus conflations for decades. Now the drug warriors are at it again.

      Technically, according to the Oxford Dictionary, a drug is a medicine or other substance which has a physiological effect when ingested or otherwise introduced into the body.

      But culturally, “drugs” means first and foremost, drugs that alter your consciousness, and which are also illegal; this formulation unerringly reduces to marijuana specifically.

      They’re coming for us, people. This is cover, smokescreen, blackout. This means attract is imminent.

      • Mark Mitcham says:

        Fucking spellcheck. That should read “attack is imminent.”

      • mexweed says:

        Clarify: a Joint is a DRUG cocktail of heat shock, carbon monoxide and 4221 combustion toxins; vaporized cannabis is an herbal nutrition supplement. Year after year thousands of articles referring to cannabis as a drug have a picture of a Joint at the top, coincidence?

    3. Miles says:

      This article perfectly confirms that any paranoia I experience is based on reality!

      I really hate America’s so-called Justice System… For years I have considered it to be one of the stupidest in the world. After all, what other country would continue to lock up non-violent cannabis users while releasing very dangerous felons (murderers, rapists, etc.) back into society so they can do more of the same or worse???

    4. Sean says:

      “Good people don’t smoke marijuana” thus sayeth the omnipotent AG Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions. Well, I guess I’m not a good person then, according to the wise Sessions. And you stoners for Trump are beneath contempt by selling out cannabis freedom for fascism. Eff you deplorables!

    5. Julian says:

      This just in from another mj advocacy blog:

      “Marijuana possession busts comprised 37.36% of all reported drug arrests in the U.S. in 2016, and cannabis sales and manufacturing arrests accounted for another 4.18% of the total.
      Added together, marijuana arrests made up 41.54% of the 1,572,579 drug busts in the country last year.
      That means, based on an extrapolation, that police arrested people for cannabis 653,249 times in the U.S. in 2016.
      That averages out to about one marijuana arrest every 48 seconds.
      According to the same calculation, there were 643,121 U.S. cannabis arrests in 2015.
      So arrests for marijuana are on the rise, even as more states legalize it.”

      So the FBI delayed their roll out of marijuana arrest records Monday only to draw attention to the fact that marijuana arrests are up when so may states are legalizing? Let me guess; did Trump and Sessions have something to do with that brilliant idea?
      Trump, you’re FIRED!

    6. Victor says:

      Am I missing something here? Why was this column of data removed from the latest publicized report? Is this data, particularly the uptick, unflattering in some sense and subsequently intentionally left out of the limelight? Anyone care to propose an explanation?

      • Dain Bramage says:

        @ Victor,
        I think Julian may have nailed the explanation, above: a heavy-handed attempt by the Trump administration to hide the uptick in MJ arrests. It’s plausible, and it is a flavor of bullshit that is entirely consistent with the character of this administration (er, I mean, despot.)

    7. Jim says:

      In 1991, San Francisco became the first municipality to legalize medical cannabis. Just look at us in 2017 with over 2/3 of the US having decriminalization,legalization, or medical cannabis. We were better off in 1991 with no legalization and fewer arrests! Reformers need to ask themselves what the he’ll they’re going to do. Is this “legalization” doing any good at all at all?

      • Sean says:

        @Jim: You are opposed to legalization, so do you want Jeff Sessions to do the dirty work for you? Stoners against legalization are like roaches for Raid.

        • Mark Mitcham says:

          Preach, Sean! Stoners Against Legalization are traitors to stoner society! Betrayed for gold, and I’m not talking about Acapulco Gold!

    8. Jim says:

      How many of these arrests result when cops plant it on people?

    9. Julian says:


      More arrests on nonviolent marijuana consumers than violent crimes… And then watch Trumpians blame Obama for our socioeconomic inequality. We see stats like these and its no wonder that Dems are taking over in special elections and anyone Trump endorses loses so hard he has to delete his tweets. “Hey Trump! Get that Strange sunnuva bitch off the campaign! Youre FIRED!”

      • Julian says:

        I guess I should go on to say I don’t support Moore in any way, and he’s a drug warrior… and sadly the district in Alabama is Gerrymandered so badly and Democratic votes are caged with the Republican crosscheck program this religious nut will probably win.

        But I relish this Republican infighting to help Beto’s campaign to take out Senator Cruz in Texas. Even though the discriminatory redistricting will likely not see the Supreme Court in time for 2018 elections, there’s a momentum in Beto’s campaign like I’ve never seen before. Aside from preaching to end the drug war, he’s actually visiting the rural Republican coastal counties affected by Harvey Republicans have been ignoring. Texas R’s won’t even release the $10 billion dollar rainy day fund after our rainiest days ever. The party of self reliance is relying on federal funds, and has no growth plan for infrastructure or education on $50 a barrel of oil. And our marijuana advocate Beto O’rourke has another weapon: Nothing beats cable and fake-news propaganda from Facebook like good ol face to face Q & A.

    10. Julian says:

      Just because Im cynical about the Republican Cro$$check program caging the African American vote in Jeff Sessions old district doesnt mean we should give up the fight of Good over Evil;


      Doug Jones, the Democratic candidate has a chance against this lunatic Moore. The key will be working with poor white Republicans to convince them that Moore’s policies will hurt them and Jones is in their corner pocket, praise Jesus, legalize marijuana for the poor men of all colors and creeds. White men go to prison too!