Thursday, October 20, 2005

Marijuana Arrests in the U.S. Hit Record High

"Police arrested an estimated 771,608 persons for marijuana violations in 2004, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's annual Uniform Crime Report, released today. The total is the highest ever recorded by the FBI, and comprised 44.2 percent of all drug arrests in the United States.

'These numbers belie the myth that police do not target and arrest minor marijuana offenders,' said NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre, who noted that at current rates, a marijuana smoker is arrested every 41 seconds in America. 'This effort is a tremendous waste of criminal justice resources that diverts law enforcement personnel away from focusing on serious and violent crime, including the war on terrorism.'

Of those charged with marijuana violations, 89 percent - some 684,319 Americans - were charged with possession only. The remaining 87,289 individuals were charged with 'sale/manufacture,' a category that includes all cultivation offenses - even those where the marijuana was being grown for personal or medical use. In past years, approximately 30 percent of those arrested were age 19 or younger.

'Present policies have done little if anything to decrease marijuana's availability or dissuade youth from trying it,' St. Pierre said, noting that a majority of young people in the U.S. now report that they have easier access to pot than alcohol or tobacco.

The total number of marijuana arrests in the U.S. for 2004 far exceeded the total number of arrests in the U.S. for all violent crimes combined, including murder, manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault." (more)

Arrest of Juveniles for Drug Abuse Violations from 1994 to 2003

Percent Distribution of the Estimated Number of Drug Arrests of Juveniles
by Drug Type, 1994-2003