Being apprehended for simple marijuana possession in the United States declined to nearly a 20 year low this past year, taken from new statistics this past Monday by the FBI. The amount of arrests for marijuana possession in 2015 wich is 574,641 – is as low as its ever been since 1996. It reflects a 7 percent year-over-year decline, and roughly a 25 percent drop from the peak of close to 800,000 marijuana possession arrests back in 2007.

The FBI data implies that in the aggregate, law enforcement officers are dedicating less time to marijuana enforcement in comparison to other drugs that need more attention from law enforcement. In 2010 the sale of cannabis along with possession collectively accounted for slightly more than half of all drug arrests.

By 2015, that number had dropped to 43 percent. By contrast, the numbers display that law enforcement has been making more arrests for cocaine and heroin, and other various non-narcotic drugs. Still, the marijuana possession arrest rate works out to more than one arrest every minute.

Supporters of drug policy reform have long analyzed the high rate of marijuana apprehensions from encountering law enforcement has looked upon as misplaced criminal justice priorities.

The Drug Policy Alliance calls marijuana arrests “The engine driving the U.S. war on drugs” and says that “The huge number of marijuana arrests every year usurps scarce law enforcement, criminal justice, and treatment resources at an enormous cost to taxpayers.” A widely-cited 2013 ACLU document estimated that the total cost to taxpayers of marijuana possession enforcement in the U.S. was $3.6 billion.

It also discovered that while opposite races and genders use marijuana at similar rates, black users were four times more likely than whites to be arrested for it, which I disagree with seeing how many races and ethnicities get caught every day with it. Opponents of lax marijuana laws highlight that very few people – were talking less than 1 percent of state inmates – truly serve prison time for marijuana possession.

The majority of people arrested for marijuana use are held in jail for at least a day and receive a criminal record that can impact their employment, according to a Drug Policy Alliance report from earlier this year. Law enforcement in Charlotte, North Carolina state they confronted Keith Lamont Scott earlier this month after allegedly observing him in a car with a suspected marijuana blunt and a handgun and even though the suspect had a firearm and marijuana in his possession, to fatally shoot someone before exercising proper apprehension tactics to give what we Americans call due process and a right to fair trial, in my opinion, is just absurd.


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