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

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Janet BurnsOctober four, 2019

(FOTOKITA/iStock)

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

Law enforcement produced an estimated 663,367 cannabis-associated arrests in 2018, according to FBI information released this week, up from an estimated 659,700 the preceding year. That is far more than a single cannabis arrest per minute in 2018—the exact same year a record two-thirds of Americans (66%) mentioned they help legalization.

“These numbers are extremely disheartening,” Sheila Vakhaira, PhD, deputy director for academic engagement at the Drug Policy Alliance, mentioned in a telephone get in touch with with Leafly. “They’re not considerably distinctive from preceding years, in spite of the truth that we see states passing growing and far more progressive marijuana reforms, each as decriminalization and legalization.”

Additional than 1.six million arrests in 2018 had been drug-associated, according to the FBI report, which compiles information from a lot of but not all US law enforcement groups, which includes state neighborhood, and tribal authorities. And of the roughly 40% of these that had to do with cannabis, the vast majority had been for basically possessing the plant or its items.

It is the third consecutive year cannabis arrests have risen, reversing a trend of declining arrests that started following 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 a lot of police departments across the nation continue to waste tax dollars and restricted law enforcement sources on arresting otherwise law-abiding citizens for basic marijuana possession,” NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri mentioned in a statement.

Almost 91% of all cannabis arrests in 2018—or around 608,776—were for basic possession. That is a slightly greater portion than in 2017, when roughly 599,282 individuals had been arrested for possession.

Cannabis possession arrest prices had been highest in the Northeast area, producing up almost half of all drug-possession arrests, followed closely by the Midwest and Southern regions. In the West, exactly where many significant states have legalized the plant for adult use, arrests for cannabis possession had been a great deal decrease, producing 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 sufficient: Additional states need to have to move forward beyond decriminalization toward legalization.”

“We also need to have 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 obtaining an arrest record can not haunt individuals and comply with them and limit or restrict their possibilities in life: the capacity to pursue specific kinds of employment, to safe housing, and to engage in a assortment of activities.”

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

“The War on Drugs is not more than. The war on cannabis shoppers and sufferers is not even more than: it is escalating, and we know from previous practical experience that [it] disproportionately affecting communities of colour,” the group mentioned in an emailed statement. “The boost in arrests for cannabis offenses underscores the need to have for instant federal legalization, automated expungement, and repair of the harms carried out by prohibition.”

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Janet Burns

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

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