Every 25 seconds in the United States, someone is arrested for the simple act of possessing drugs for their personal marijuana use.
That staggering statistic means that, on any given day, at least 137,000 American men and women are behind bars for drug possession —48,000 of them in state prisons and 89,000 in jails, most of the latter in pretrial detention.
Let that sink in a bit. Nearly 90,000 citizens are sitting behind bars without being convicted of a crime. They are waiting for their day court waiting for months or possibly years to appear before judge because they can’t afford to post bail.
In a report released jointly Wednesday by by the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch, the data clearly demonstrate no correlation between possession arrests and rates of drug use.
“Around the country, police make more arrests for drug possession than for any other crime,” according to the report. “More than one of every nine arrests by state law enforcement is for drug possession, amounting to more than 1.25 million arrests each year.”
Nearly half of all drug possession arrests (over 574,000) were for marijuana possession, according to the report. “By comparison, there were 505,681 arrests for violent crimes (which the FBI defines as murder, non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault). This means that police made more arrests for simple marijuana possession than for all violent crimes combined,” the study revealed.
The report also points out that black adults were more than two-and-a-half times as likely to be arrested for drug possession, despite the fact black and white Americans use drugs at similar rates.
From the report:
In every state for which we have sufficient data, Black adults were arrested for drug possession at higher rates than white adults, and in many states the disparities were substantially higher than the national rate—over 6 to 1 in Montana, Iowa, and Vermont. In Manhattan, Black people are nearly 11 times more likely than white people to be arrested for drug possession.
Earlier this month, the Drug Policy Action and Brave New Films teamed up to create a new video illustrating how discriminatory marijuana law enforcement in California is used to criminalize people of color.
Check it out:
Highway is an essential source for cannabis science, how-to stories and demystifying marijuana. Want to read more? Thy these posts: One Man’s Journey In Pursuit Of The Truth Behind Marijuana Prohibition, Marijuana Myth Busting: Does Holding In Smoke Get You Higher? and A Drag Queen’s Visit To The Cannabis Store.
Posted By: Al Olson