FBI: Cannabis arrests on the rise for 3rd year operating

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Janet BurnsOctober four, 2019

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The quantity of US cannabis arrests continued to climb final year, new federal information show, in spite of escalating legal and public approval for the plant.

Law enforcement created an estimated 663,367 cannabis-connected arrests in 2018, according to FBI information released this week, up from an estimated 659,700 the earlier year. That is additional than one particular cannabis arrest per minute in 2018—the very same year a record two-thirds of Americans (66%) mentioned they assistance legalization.

“These numbers are extremely disheartening,” Sheila Vakharia, PhD, deputy director for academic engagement at the Drug Policy Alliance, mentioned in a telephone contact with Leafly. “They’re not substantially unique from earlier years, regardless of the truth that we see states passing escalating and additional progressive marijuana reforms, each as decriminalization and legalization.”

Far more than 1.six million arrests in 2018 had been drug-connected, according to the FBI report, which compiles information from lots of but not all US law enforcement groups, like state, regional, and tribal authorities. And of the roughly 40% of these that had to do with cannabis, the vast majority had been for merely possessing the plant or its goods.

It is the third consecutive year cannabis arrests have risen, reversing a trend of declining arrests that started right after 2007, when the quantity peaked at a record 872,721 total cannabis arrests.

“At a time when the overwhelming majority of Americans want cannabis to be legal and regulated, it is an outrage that lots of police departments across the nation continue to waste tax dollars and restricted law enforcement sources on arresting otherwise law-abiding citizens for very simple marijuana possession,” NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri mentioned in a statement.

Practically 91% of all cannabis arrests in 2018—or about 608,776—were for very simple possession. That is a slightly larger portion than in 2017, when roughly 599,282 persons had been arrested for possession.

Cannabis possession arrest prices had been highest in the Northeast area, generating up practically half of all drug-possession arrests, followed closely by the Midwest and Southern regions. In the West, exactly where a number of significant states have legalized the plant for adult use, arrests for cannabis possession had been substantially reduce, generating up just 13.four% of all drug arrests.

“What this tells us is that marijuana remains the lowest-hanging fruit for drug policing in the United States,” Vakharia mentioned, “and that decriminalization is not adequate: Far more states require to move forward beyond decriminalization toward legalization.”

“We also require to see a shift in police practices and priorities,” she continued. “We know that even if these arrests do not outcome in convictions and incarceration or jail time, even the mark of possessing an arrest record [can] haunt persons and adhere to them and limit or restrict their possibilities in life: the capacity to pursue particular forms of employment, to safe housing, and to engage in a wide variety of activities.”

The nonprofit group Cage-Absolutely free Cannabis, a social justice nonprofit that has helped lead efforts to expunge cannabis-connected criminal records by means of National Expungement Week and other applications, agreed that the FBI’s information highlights ongoing difficulties with how our nation handles drugs.

“The War on Drugs is not more than. The war on cannabis shoppers and individuals is not even more than: it is escalating, and we know from previous encounter that it is disproportionately affecting communities of colour,” the group mentioned in an emailed statement. “The raise in arrests for cannabis offenses underscores the require for quick federal legalization, automated expungement, and repair of the harms performed by prohibition.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of Sheila Vakharia.

Janet Burns's Bio Image

Janet Burns

Janet Burns is a freelance writer primarily based in Brooklyn who finds drugs, tech, labor, and culture exceptionally intriguing, amongst other items. She also hosts the cannabis news and conversation podcast The Toke.

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