Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Cops Arrest Roughly 90 People an Hour for Marijuana Possession

Posted By on Tue, Sep 20, 2011 at 8:35 AM

click to enlarge Keeping busy - TOKEOFTHETOWN.COM
  • Keeping busy

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."

Follow us on Twitter at @TheSnitchSF

and @SFWeekly

  • Pin It

Tags: , , , , , , ,

About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"