Federal marijuana arrests remain high despite nationwide acceptance
Public acceptance of recreational marijuana use grows stronger every single year. Presently, marijuana use for medicinal purposes is legal and available in over two-dozen states plus the District of Columbia. Other states like Colorado and Washington have gone a step further and just last year passed laws legalizing pot use for recreational purposes.
The use of cannabis, however, is still illegal under federal law. Astonishingly, despite growing acceptable among the nation, new data from the FBI shows that federal pot-related arrests continue to remain high.
The 2012 Uniform Crime Report
According to data from the 2012 Uniform Crime Report, there were approximately 750,000 federal marijuana arrests from possession, selling and growing of the product. Out of this total number, 7 out of 8 were for possession.
Not only was the number of pot arrests alarming, this number equated to half of the total number of federal drug arrests.
Despite growing acceptance and numerous discredited theories on the dangers of pot use, the data shows that federal authorities continue to be vigilant on arresting those using marijuana.
Non-violent pot arrests top violent crime arrests
But the most alarming fact from this data shows that more people in 2012 were arrested for non-violent marijuana crimes than all violent crimes, including murder, manslaughter, rape, robbery and aggravated assault, combined. (Roughly 660,000 pot arrests occurred compared to approximately 522,000 violent crime arrests.)
This statistic shows more than a heedful observation that the federal government has no plans to loosen its attention on marijuana usage across the country. It’s a sign that punishment for violent crimes is likely slipping through the cracks.
State budgets all across the U.S. are being slashed in the wake of the stagnant economy. Officials just don’t have the revenue for extra police officers, fire department officials and other public service positions. As a result, there just aren’t enough resources to go around.
So, according to the director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, the resources that are left are seemingly being utilized to attack responsible adult users of marijuana-a product proven less harmful than alcohol-instead of violent offenders.
Others, including a University of New York Sociology Professor, agree. A continued high rate of federal arrests related to pot is simply “scandalous,” he says.
Forced change at the federal level?
It’s likely that more and more states will legalize recreational marijuana. And, as this occurs, federal authorities may take note and voluntarily reassess the decision to allocate resources to fight the marijuana drug war.
However, federal authorities may be forced to change even if they have plans to continue the status quo. Prison rates are at an all-time high and are taxing the federal budget. Thousands of inmates sit in prison-many because of mandatory sentencing mandates-that are draining desperately needed taxpayer dollars.
Consulting with an attorney
Until then, however, those facing marijuana or other drug charges are encouraged to consult with an experienced drug crime criminal defense lawyer. An attorney can help mitigate the consequences, direct and indirect, that stem from a drug conviction.