While states across the nation continue to legalize cannabis for medical and recreational purposes, police have apparently ramped up their enforcement against the herb. In fact, the latest national crime data published this week by the Federal Bureau of Investigations indicates that cops arrested people for marijuana at an alarming rate in 2014, revealing an increase in overall cannabis arrests for the first time in five years.
The report shows that over 700,000 people were arrested for cannabis offenses in 2014 – almost 7,500 more than the year prior – indicating that a person is getting arrested in the U.S. for minor pot possession every 45 seconds. This means despite Colorado and Washington launching full-scale recreational pot markets last year, police agencies all over the country were still making it part of their daily grind to go after petty marijuana offenders.
Surprisingly, there were more people busted for weed in 2014 than for any other drug being bought and sold across the United States – more than the combination of most hard drugs. Cannabis possession accounted for nearly 40 percent of all the nation’s drug violations, while cocaine and its narcotic counterpart, heroin, made up only 17 percent. That’s not a lot of arrests for a drug that is supposed to be an American epidemic.
“Law enforcement officials should not be wasting their time and resources arresting and prosecuting adults for using marijuana,” Mason Tvert with the Marijuana Policy Project said in a statement. “Could you imagine if hundreds of thousands of adults were arrested last year simply for possessing alcohol? That would be crazy. It’s even crazier that hundreds of thousands of adults were arrested for possessing a less harmful substance.”
What’s even more insane is the report does not show a major increase in drug trafficking and other crimes associated with the black market sale of marijuana. Nearly 88 percent of the total arrests related to cannabis were for simple possession. Meanwhile, just over 5 percent were for crimes pertaining to its cultivation and distribution.
Therefore, contrary to statements made by drug warriors over the past year regarding the diminishing focus on minor marijuana crime – some even suggesting that no one serves jail time for weed – people are still being arrested and booked for simply holding small amounts of cannabis.
“These numbers refute the myth that nobody actually gets arrested for using marijuana,” Tvert said. “It’s hard to imagine why more people were arrested for marijuana possession when fewer people than ever believe it should be a crime.”
Do you think people should be arrested for possessing cannabis? Share your opinion in the comments.