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Uniform Crime Report

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director September 26, 2016

    Marijuana-related arrests in the United States have fallen to their lowest levels since the mid-1990s, according to data released today by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.

    According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, police made 643,122 arrests for marijuana-related offenses in 2015. Of those arrested, 574,641 (89 percent of all marijuana-related arrests) were charged with marijuana possession only, not cultivation or trafficking.

    US Marijuana Arrests

    The annual arrest total represents more than a 25 percent decline since 2007, when police arrested a record 872,721 Americans for violating marijuana laws.

    Since 2012, four states and the District of Columbia have legalized the adult use and possession of personal quantities of cannabis, leading to a dramatic decline in marijuana-related arrests in those jurisdictions.

    As in previous years, marijuana possession arrests were least likely to occur in the western region of the United States, where possessing the plant has largely been either legalized or decriminalized.

    According to 2016 nationwide survey data compiled by the Associated Press, some six out of ten Americans now say that the adult use of marijuana should be legally regulated.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director September 28, 2015

    The total number of marijuana-related arrests nationwide rose in 2014, despite the implementation of legalization laws in two states, according to data released today by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.

    According to the 2014 Uniform Crime Report, police made 700,993 arrests for marijuana-related offenses, some 7,500 more arrests than were reported in 2013. Of those arrested, 619,808 (over 88 percent) were charged with possession only — a two percent increase since 2013.

    Annual Arrests in the US 1965-2014

    Marijuana arrests comprised nearly half (45 percent) of all drug-related arrests nationwide, at a cost of nearly half a billion dollars.

    In the two states (Colorado and Washington) that have legalized marijuana-related activities, cannabis-related arrests plummeted in 2014 — indicating that that other jurisdictions are prioritizing arrests at a time when the majority of the public is opposed to criminalization. (Recent changes in marijuana laws in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington, DC are not reflected in the 2014 arrest data, but will be reflected in 2015 data.)

    As in previous years, marijuana possession arrests were most likely to occur in the midwest and in the southeastern regions of the United States. Far fewer marijuana arrests were reported in the western region of the United States, where possessing the plant has largely been either legalized or decriminalized.

    The total number of marijuana arrests for 2014 are some 20 percent lower than the totals for 2007, when police made an all-time high 872,721 cannabis-related arrests.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director October 29, 2012

    Police made 757,969 arrests in 2011 for marijuana-related offenses, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s annual Uniform Crime Report, released today. The total is a decrease from past years. During the years 2006 to 2010, police annually made over 800,000 arrests for cannabis violations.

    According to the report, marijuana arrests now comprise one-half of all illicit drug arrests in the United States. Approximately 43 percent of all drug violations are for cannabis possession.

    “As in past years, the so-called ‘drug war’ remains fueled by the arrests of minor marijuana possession offenders,” NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said. “Cannabis prohibition financially burdens taxpayers, encroaches upon civil liberties, engenders disrespect for the law, impedes upon legitimate scientific research into the plant’s medicinal properties, and disproportionately impacts communities of color. It’s time to stop stigmatizing and criminalizing tens of millions of Americans for choosing to consume a substance that is safer than either tobacco or alcohol.”

    Of those charged in 2011 with marijuana law violations, 663,032 (86 percent) were arrested for marijuana offenses involving possession only. The remaining 94,937 individuals were charged with “sale/manufacture,” a category that includes virtually all cultivation offenses.

    By region, the percentage of marijuana arrests was highest in the Midwest (61 percent of all drug arrests) of the United States and lowest in the west, where marijuana violations comprised only 29 percent of total drug arrests.

    On Tuesday, November 6, voters in three states — Colorado, Oregon, and Washington — will decide on statewide ballot measures that seek to allow for the personal possession and regulated distribution of cannabis for adults. In two states, Colorado and Washington, these measures are ahead in the polls by double digit leads.

    Recent national polls by Gallup, Rasmussen, The Huffington Post, and Angus Reid show that more Americans now support legalizing the adult use of cannabis than support maintaining its prohibition.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director September 19, 2011

    Police made 853,838 arrests in 2010 for marijuana-related offenses, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s annual Uniform Crime Report, released today. The arrest total is among the highest ever reported by the agency and is nearly identical to the total number of cannabis-related arrests reported in 2009.

    According to the report, marijuana arrests now comprise more than one-half (52 percent) of all drug arrests in the United States. An estimated 46 percent of all drug arrests are for offenses related to marijuana possession.

    “Today, as in past years, the so-called ‘drug war’ remains fueled by the arrests of minor marijuana possession offenders, a disproportionate percentage of whom are ethnic minorities,” NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said in a prepared statement. “It makes no sense to continue to waste law enforcements’ time and taxpayers’ dollars to arrest and prosecute Americans for their use of a substance that poses far fewer health risks than alcohol or tobacco.”

    Of those charged with marijuana law violations, 750,591 (88 percent) were arrested for marijuana offenses involving possession only. The remaining 103,247 individuals were charged with “sale/manufacture,” a category that includes virtually all cultivation offenses.

    Marijuana Arrests in the US

    By region, the percentage of marijuana arrests was highest in the Midwest (63.5 percent of all drug arrests) and southern regions (57 percent of all drug arrests) of the United States and lowest in the west, where pot prosecutions comprised only 39 percent of total drug arrests.

    By contrast, the percentage of arrests for heroin and cocaine was lowest in the Midwest (14 percent of all arrests) and highest in the northeast (29 percent of all arrests).

    Overall, law enforcement agents nationwide arrested 1,638,846 people last year for drug abuse violations, surpassing arrests for all other crimes.

    Since 2000, law enforcement have reported making an estimated 7.9 million arrests for marijuana violations.

  • 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.

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