It's hard sometimes to get a handle on raw numbers, likr the large figures dished out by the U.S. Census and other fact-issuing agencies.
The FBI's annual Crime in the United States is a good example. To say that 13.1 million people out of a population of 308 million were arrested is nebulous; so, too, is to say that the highest number of arrests -- 1,638,846 -- were for drug-abuse violations.
Digging deeper, 52 percent of the drug-abuse violators were arrested on marijuana offenses, and 88 percent of them, or 750,591, were jailed for simple possession.
In other words, every hour, more than 90 people are arrested for possessing cannabis in the United States, among the highest totals on record.
Marijuana-related arrests have been rising steadily since 1992's 300,000 busts, or 33 per hour, according to NORML. And even then, there are still far fewer Americans arrested for marijuana than for driving under the influence (1.4 million) and simple theft (1.2 million).
But marijuana users are by far the most arrested -- and it's users, not dealers or distributors, who serve the time. About 82 percent of drug arrests were for possession -- and more marijuana growers and dealers (6.3 percent) are arrested than heroin or cocaine sellers, who make up 6.2 percent of the total, according to the report.
Nationwide, a marijuana user is three times more likely to be arrested than a heroin or cocaine user, and 10 times more likely than a methamphetamine or ecstasy user. In the western United States, marijuana possession arrests are 33.5 percent of the total.
The grand total of marijuana arrests averaged out over a 365-day period broken down by the hour is around 90 every 60 minutes, meaning that by the time you've finished reading this article, someone, somewhere in the United States was taken to jail for possessing marijuana.
"Today, as in past years, the so-called 'drug war' remains fueled by the
arrests of minor marijuana possession offenders," said NORML Deputy
Director Paul Armento in a statement. "It makes no sense to continue to
waste law enforcements' time and taxpayers' dollars to arrest and
prosecute Americans for their use of a substance that poses far fewer
health risks than alcohol or tobacco."
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