Good news: Arrests for marijuana possession fell in 2015 to the lowest level since 1996, according to the FBI.
Bad news: There were 574,641 arrests made for simple possession in 2015, which still means that someone is busted every minute in the U.S. for carrying around cannabis.
Let’s get back to the good news first. The FBI’s Crime in the United States report, released Monday, reveals that marijuana possession arrests are down 7 percent from 2014. Even more encouraging, arrests are down almost 25 percent from the zenith of 775,138 in 2007.
In a nutshell, the data suggests that law enforcement across the country are dedicating less resources and energy in going after casual cannabis consumers and are focusing on violent crime.
As more states turn their back on federal laws surrounding the war on drugs and opt for a more modern approach to drug policy, these numbers are likely to decrease at an even faster rate. This November, at least nine states will consider either legalizing marijuana for medical use of full-on recreational legalization.
But 574,641 arrests for possession is still way too many. A majority of Americans, 61 percent, support the legalization of marijuana.
According to the Drug Policy Alliance, the nation’s leading organization promoting drug policies that are grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights:
Black and Latino people are arrested at vastly disproportionate rates, even though white people use and sell marijuana at similar rates. A marijuana arrest is no small matter – the arrest creates a permanent criminal record that can easily be found by employers, landlords, schools, credit agencies and banks. Additionally, the huge number of marijuana arrests every year usurps scarce law enforcement, criminal justice and treatment resources at enormous cost to taxpayers.
According to the ACLU, “enforcing marijuana laws costs us about $3.6 billion a year, yet the War on Marijuana has failed to diminish the use or availability of marijuana.”
For more, check out Christopher Ingraham’s story in the Washington Post.