While more states are legalizing and medicalizing marijuana, more people are also still getting arrested for the plant. A new report by the FBI finds that someone gets arrested on a cannabis charge approximately every 48 seconds in the U.S..
According to the data, police are back to targeting those in simple possession, rather than focusing on those selling or distributing the yet federally illegal weed. The answer is sad as it is obvious: money.
Cannabis arrests accounted for 40.4 percent of America’s 1,632,921 drug arrests in 2017. That’s a lot of arrests and that’s a lot of money filtering into private prisons, boosting their numbers on the stock market, which have already doubled since Trump took office.
Not to say that all arrests lead to imprisonment, in most possession cases, defendants are held in county jails or are released soon after arrest. However, every arrest made that is in regards to a victimless crime, such as marijuana possession, it is a drain on our tax and law enforcement resources. There are far more important things to be prosecuting than pot.
In the FBI’s National Crime Trends for 2017, even the FBI arrestees are predominately drug related, with the next closest number — nearly half that of drug arrests — being weapons violations. That means that if we’re to stick to the percentages, roughly the same number of pot users were arrested by the FBI in 2017 as weapons violators.
It seems that even as activists and advocates of cannabis rejoice in a new world of fast spreading legalization that the original intent cannot be forgotten: keep people out of jail for a plant. There is still work to be done on that end, clearly, and the states that need it most are the states getting the least amount of attention because they aren’t nearing the legal threshold as of yet.
And, as ever, there are far more pressing issues. As federal policies director for Marijuana Policy Project told Tom Angell at Forbes, “At a time when more than 100 deaths per day are caused by opioid overdoses, it is foolish to focus our limited law enforcement resources on a drug that has caused literally zero.” And has purportedly saved many…