America spends an estimated $3.6 billion per year on these arrests, none of which lower the availability or popularity of pot, the American Civil Liberties Union finds.
Police spent more time and resources arresting people for drugs than they did arresting rapists, murderers, pedophiles, or any other offense in the UCR. Of those drug arrests, marijuana possession arrests comprised the majority. Forty-one percent of all drug arrests in 2013 were for marijuana possession, a substance the President says is less harmful than alcohol.
By contrast, more than 60 percent of reported rapes were not “cleared” by police in 2013, and more than 37 percent of murders were not “cleared”.
While the near-fifty year-old war on marijuana has not diminished the plant’s popularity, pot arrests do saddle the most vulnerable among us with a criminal record that can affect one’s ability to get a job, housing or education.
These arrests are also racially biased, the American Civil Liberties Union has found. Marijuana use is roughly equal among African-Americans and whites, yet African-Americans are 3.73 times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession.
Yesterday, the New York Times reports that the New York Police Department – a national leader in arresting minorities for pot — may stop making such arrests and issue tickets instead.
People found with small amounts of marijuana would may stop being handcuffed and taken to station houses for fingerprinting, and instead receive a ticket and court summons.
Pot arrests are down about 150,000 from 2011. Four states and Washington D.C. have now legalized cannabis for adults 21 and over. California, Arizona, Nevada, and several other states will see similar initiatives in 2016. (h/t DrugWarFacts.org)