The failed war on drugs created the characterization of marijuana as this dangerous, addictive gateway to harder substances. This assertion has largely been debunked. And yet, the drug remains a Schedule I narcotic and people continue to face arrest and prosecution – even serious prison time – for manufacturing, buying, selling and possessing the drug, even though no violent crime has been committed.
Some of the latest data to have emerged in recent weeks on marijuana arrests gives us a little hope, but also illustrates how much farther we have to go on this issue.
The first analysis was conducted by The Washington Post after receiving the latest FBI unified crime statistics from 2015. Reporters learned that the number of marijuana possession arrests last year – 575,000 – was the lowest its been since 1996. It also shows us a 7 percent year-over-year drop, and an approximately 35 percent dip since 2007, when pot possession arrests were at their peak of 800,000. Now, this would suggest that police are overall spending less time to marijuana enforcement, particularly with regard to other drugs. But then, we consider a joint report by the Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union that shows the 575,000 marijuana arrests in 2015 for low-level personal use last year numbered 13.6 percent more than the 506,000 arrests made for all violent crimes that same year – including for murder, rape and serious assaults. Continue reading