Drug Policy

Yet Another Record for Marijuana Arrests


According to FBI figures released today, about 873,000 people were arrested on marijuana charges in the United States last year, 5 percent more than in 2006 and a new record. This is the fifth year in a row that marijuana arrests, which are up 167 percent since 1990, have increased. In 2007 marijuana arrests accounted for nearly half of the 1.8 million drug arrests; as usual, the vast majority of the pot busts, about 775,000, were for simple possession.

I analyzed the upward trend in marijuana arrests in the January issue of reason. In May I noted that New York City's crackdown on pot smokers has exceeded the national trend.

In addition to chart above, NORML has a handy table.

[Thanks to the Drug Policy Alliance for the tip.]

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  1. Too weary to be clever.

    Fuck you, drug warriors. You’re a bunch of puritan assholes!

  2. This is no doubt accompanied by a record number of deaths and emergency room visits due to marijuana use not to mention a record low in crimes that merit more attention from law enforcement.

  3. Well, marijuana is such a dangerous drug, they need to protecting the health of all the pot addicts by throwing them in jail with murderers, rapists and the like.

    Good thing neither of the major presidential candidates will change this policy!

  4. Is that figure adjusted for population changes?

    Either way, fuck you, drug warriors.

  5. Good thing neither of the major presidential candidates will change this policy!

    A good thing too, since the experts agree that changing this policy would send the wrong message to America’s children.

  6. Odd that even with the increase in drug arrests I don’t feel any safer. Does anyone have an explanation?

  7. Fuck the police. I’ll do what I want.

  8. Naga,

    All those guys with guns and badges breaking down doors and searching cars without cause on the off chance that they’ll find something that can send you to prison for five years doesn’t make you feel safer?

    You must be weird or something.

  9. Cindy,

    We can’t have kids smokin’ the devils weed! Didn’t you see “Pineapple Express”? Those evil stoners sold weed to the kids and what did the kids do with it? Smoked it, thats what!

  10. Sorry Hugh, and yes. I’m a little weird. Kinda like when everyone was panicking over housing prices falling and I was happy cuz I was thinking of actually being able to buy a home finally.

  11. Hey, working hard to ruin more lives each year than the last. What dedication.

  12. meanwhile, back at the ranch, my car is the victim of a hit and run to the tune of $2000 in damages, and I can’t get more than one bored patrolman to write the report, let alone investigate an actual crime with actual damages.

  13. These government arrest numbers stories, to be complete, must also include “taxpayer dollars wasted” numbers. They almost never seem to, perhaps because it’s too depressing, and perhaps because telling the WHOLE truth seems like “advocacy journalism” when the WHOLE truth points to such obvious stupidity.

    The great thing about this higher number of arrests is that drug warriors will try to paint it as “winning,” and if the numbers had gone down instead of rising? Well, that’s “winning” too! Yay!!

  14. TAO,

    You need to make the crime sexier if you want to get the police motivated. Throw in that the guy was smoking PCP, drinking whiskey, and had an expired tag. That should help.

  15. TAO – they usually can’t be bothered to deal with stolen cars, let alone a merely damaged one.

  16. Gotta love when the biggest risk associated with MJ is arrest, but it’s illegal because it’s just so damn dangerous. What kind of ignorant fucking people call for this to be perpetuated? Bah….I know we all know, and preaching to the choir and what have you, but fuck it’s so frustrating. Beer in one hand, pointing fingers with the other…..

  17. What accounts for the turnaround in arrests in 1992 and the upward march since then?

  18. Percentage of all drug arrests that were for possession, 82.5.
    Percentage of all drug arrests that were for marijuana possession, 42.1.
    Percentage of all drug possession arrests that were for marijuana, 51.0.

    Way to concentrate your resources on the drug kingpins, jerkoffs.

    The War on Drugs Sanity continues. Fuck, fuck and double fuck.

  19. Some of you people are absolutely absurd. This pathetic war on drugs is an epic failure by the U.S. political system; A waste of U.S. dollars provided by it’s citizens. A better use of that fat sum of tax dollars could be invested in drug education, community safety programs, youth recreation, etc. We’re convicting marijuana users(at our expense) while half the country swallows pharmaceuticals and stuffs their faces (and their children) with fast food, an equally damaging habit in regard to mental and physical health. Knowledge is power. Go get some.

  20. I’ve never tried any illegal drugs (or most legal, non medicinal ones, I don’t like alcohol much personally), but shit likes this makes me want to just to protest the idiocy.

  21. Baffled, who exactly is absurd? I may have missed the post where someone said this is a good thing, but that would be unexpected.

    While I certainly agree with some of what you said, I expected you to put a link up to some site like a proper bot.

    Also, fast food is probably worse for the average person than marijuanna, at least in the amount the average user eats.

  22. I should know the answer to this but I don’t. Anybody care to divulge the penalty difference between an arrest for possession in 1990 vs today?

    Gotta love when the biggest risk associated with MJ is arrest

    Actually, I find the greatest risk is the raid before the arrest. Just sayin’.

  23. These government arrest numbers stories, to be complete, must also include “taxpayer dollars wasted” numbers.
    Here ya go.

  24. “What accounts for the turnaround in arrests in 1992 and the upward march since then?”
    Asset forfeiture.

  25. Meanwhile, the latest hollywood crapola movie being boosted by my local paper proudly notes that the main character, a surfer dude of course, is smoking a joint by the second scene. These are the same people that write the scripts for the drug warriors screeds. How can anyone fail to notice that only little people are hurt by this insane war. Everybody else profits from it in some way and nobody wants to change it.

  26. SWEET! I can raise my prices now! Thanks drug pigs!

  27. Baffled | September 15, 2008, 1:23pm | #
    Some of you people are absolutely absurd.

    Knowledge is power. Go get some.

    Hrrm, you must be new here. Let me fill you in.

    The posts above by Cindy, Naga Shadow and BakedPenguin (note the name) are what we call sarcasm. Stick around a bit and you will probably be able to spot it easier in the future.

  28. Hold on there Kwix. I was totally serious about Angry Optimist embellishing his hit and run accident. I’m helpful that way.

  29. Yeah it looks like arresting potheads is doing wonders for our economy.

  30. Chris, there’s more where that came from. The aggressive eradication programs are a lot easier to do in the US, so that’s why we still import a lot of pot (in addition to all the other drugs).

    The drug war adds a few billion dollars each year to our trade imbalance.

  31. BakedPenguin,

    Well . . . technically all the billions leaving the country is a good thing. Helps keep inflation down.

  32. Naga, I don’t know about that. I don’t think we can “hide” inflation by having dollars go to other countries – I think the forex markets are too fast moving for that.

    Also, the more dollars that go overseas, the more other currencies will gain on the dollar, meaning any goods valued in those currencies will cost more.

  33. We hide inflation by massively manipulating gold & silver prices, while the media ignores said manipulation. Everyone’s heard about oil’s alleged manipulation, but the concentration of silver shorts literally dwarfs the oil longs, as well as the historic Hunt bros.’ alleged attempt to “corner the market” for silver on the long side, and the news media snores away happily. Sigh. I’m preparing for a massive “I told you so.”

  34. There really is no longer such a thing as a “good faith” position in favor of marijuana prohibition.

    The lies are old. Marijuana prohibition is a counter productive fraud on every level.

    Those who continue to perpetrate this fraud are at best ignorant tools and at worst malicious and evil.

  35. the historic Hunt bros.’ alleged attempt to “corner the market” for silver on the long side

    I thought it was the Duke brothers trying to corner the market going long on FCOJ.

  36. I know many people who dislike marijuanna or think its bad for you, but I know none who think it should be criminal to have or use some. It’s hard to believe there is more than a small minority who think that.

  37. “SWEET! I can raise my prices now! Thanks drug pigs!”

    As long as we continue to receive those cash payments from you in unsequenced $100 bills at our pre-arranged location you can charge what you want Mr. Pot Farmer. Have a nice day.

    /Prohibition = Making something that takes pennies to produce worth a fortune to criminals and law enforcement for centuries.

  38. Those who continue to perpetrate this fraud are at best ignorant tools and at worst malicious and evil.

    Or both. The insanity of all this boggles the rational mind.

    Senator Obama, would you be where you are today if you had been arrested and convicted for drug possession? Since vitually all drug user are guilty of distribution, if you’ve ever passed a joint or split the price of a gram you are a drug trafficker, how would that felony affect your abilty to bring about CHANGE??

    Senator McCain, why didn’t your wife do hard time? she stole, falsified records and put innocent people at risk to support an illegal drug habit. Would your family be better off if she had been zealously prosecuted like those who aren’t senators wives are?

    Oh I see, good for thee but not for me. I call you both hypocritical bastards who will trade simple morality for a goddam election.

    1. Well said!

  39. BakedPenguin,

    Ahem. Focus on the word “technically”. My fault really though. I should have put a (shrug) in there at the end so you would know I was joking.

  40. Another reminder that the courts believe a woman’s right to control her body stops at her labia.

  41. “Yeah it looks like arresting potheads is doing wonders for our economy.”

    Yeah, just like limiting a person’s income potential with war on some drugs testing and their lower taxable income is good for the economy.

    Just like war on some drug testing stopped all of the MBA “geniuses” on Wall Street from ruining looting our economy. If only these bozos were drug tested, the DOW would be over 14,000, like it was a few years ago.

    The greedy bastards who are running our economy into the ground are costing all of us more than someone who responsibly uses cannabis and works as a clerk.

    /Interstate commerce my ass!

  42. J sub D, great points! Cindy McCain went way beyond “just getting high” How about prescription fraud (felony)? She also cost her team’s doctor his license and the DEA forced him into retirement.

    What we really need to do is rid the streets of cannabis users, right? Oh…for the children.

    Jury nullification in non-violent drug cases, voting, asset forfeiture repeal and dissemination of the truth to the brainwashed and ignorant are the key things to topple the drug warrior/prison complex.


  43. Naga – ah, I shouldn’t have shut off my sarcasm meter…

  44. No prob. I gotta admit I thought there was some level of economics I wasn’t aware of when I saw forex markets. Took me almost a minute to realize you meant foreign exchange markets.

  45. I hate to hijack this thread, but Richard Wright died.

  46. I knew that would happen!

  47. “”””What accounts for the turnaround in arrests in 1992 and the upward march since then?””””

    Assest seizures is probably a big one. What about competing for military hand me downs?

  48. Argh.

    An egregious waste of taxpayer dollars, an even more egregious assault on liberty.

    Let me say this again: the idea the government has any right to dictate what fully informed citizens choose to ingest in the privacy of their own homes is ridiculous.

  49. I hate to hijack this thread, but Richard Wright died.

    Thanks a lot. I really needed another reminder that I’m getting long in the tooth, asshole!

  50. “Fuck you, drug warriors. You’re a bunch of puritan assholes!”

    They’re not puritan assholes. They want their cut of incredibly lucrative profits.

    Law enforcement personnel (police, DAs, AGs, USAG, etc.) are the most important part of the drug profit machine: Jobs, forfeiture profits, money made through plain old black market corruption, etc., all ride on keeping the product narrowly limited in accessibility and, therefore, artificially expensive. The dealers and LEOS actively cooperate and split the resulting proceeds, making them all one big organized crime machine.

    This has nothing to do with puritanism: It’s all about greed and the willingness to destroy lives as necessary in the name of personal profit.

  51. Federal Dog,
    Drug warriors include the people who elect and support the anti freedom laws and enforcement establishment. Yes, “puritan assholes” includes your Aunt Matilda.

  52. Thanks a lot. I really needed another reminder that I’m getting long in the tooth, asshole!

    You are welcome at my fire, anytime.

  53. Strangers passing in the street
    By chance two separate glances meet
    And I am you and what I see is me
    And do I take you by the hand
    And lead you through the land
    And help me understand the best I can

    I guess I should to some extent respond to the facts or theme of this thread….

    I can’t tell you how much weed I have consumed absorbing the political, social, and emotional empathy of my fellow human being that permiates Pink Floyd… a part of which died today.

    But I can’t help but think that the amalgamation of this music and this chemical helped me to facilitate this mind set that promotes the Schweitzerian principle of life affirmation. And you disgusting fucking pigs!!!!!! You fucking pigs that would snuff out life rather than affirm it!!!! Jacob’s facts…. If there was such a thing as an omnibenelovent god, you fucking pigs would have testicular cancer.

  54. “Drug warriors include the people who elect and support the anti freedom laws and enforcement establishment.”

    Fair enough. When I hear the word “warriors,” I think of the assholes who fight me tooth and nail in court to nail people for simple possession, then move for forfeiture of whatever assets they think they can get.

  55. Yea, who cares about rapists, murderers, serial killers, pedophiles, incarserating people for causing harm only to themselves is really helping to clean up this country. What kind of message are we sending to our kids, that murderers, pedophiles are less of a threat to society than pot smokers? For all those hardcore, anti-drug hounds, the real threat to our kids is cigarettes and alcohol, as they both kill hundreds of thousands each year. Marijuana has yet to claim its first victim.

  56. I like the way the government thinks, allocating more funds for fighting an unsuccessful war on drugs rather than funding our schools, which are in terrible shape. Look at the economy, tumbling down, yet we outspend Canada’s military budget on a fucking useless drug policy that has only made drug lords even more richer by driving the price of drugs up.

  57. Troy,

    Damn I love Echoes!!!!

    If you get the Pompeii DVD, just edit the two sets of Echoes together and it’s an amazing audio track.

  58. Is it me or does the precipitous rise in arrests coincide quite nicely with the 1988 creation of a cabinet level drug control position? Sure they needed a couple of years to get going but after that it was off to the races. Hmm.

  59. I noticed someone’s comment on people popping perscriptions below, and then a couple satiricle comments about the kids, good stuff. The Pill thing is worse than you may know though. Rx are gaining ground on marijuana as the most abused drug by kids as young as 7th grade, and these young kids are going straight to heroin after mom’s and pop’s pills run out because it’s cheap and gives a similar high. I have a bunch of “funny” articles about this stuff but for the numbers check out http://drugs.reportednow.com/2008/07/teens-take-pain-killers-still-annoy-me-at-the-theatre/

  60. Assuming 775,138 arrests for simple misdemeanor possession and $1200 in fines and costs per case that’s about $930,165,600 raised. Nope this law will never change.

  61. it’s time for jury nullification.

  62. Sad to say but The War on Drugs will never end. Too much of our economy is tied up in the drug money laundered through the banks. Not to mention the day they legalize Marijuana untold numbers of law enforcement would be unemployed. Life just sucks sometimes.

  63. Anybody have the drive to organize a smoke festival in Central Park sometime this fall?

    October 18 is the Sweetest Day. Let them arrest
    one hundred thousand of us at once.

  64. I hate to hijack this thread, but Richard Wright died.

    We’ll miss you, Rick.

    “Telephone rings, and someone speaks
    She would very much like to go
    Out to a show, but in the scene I should have been
    Far away.
    Away, away, away, away…”

  65. How many more lives will our Drug Busters destroy before we call this war off. It’s a complete joke. There is not a gathering anywhere in America where folks openly laugh about pot. Yet, outside the party, the “face” comes back on, and the losing battles continue.

    What a waste of precious national resources.

    Let’s open state run/regulated marijauna stores like we have for liquor stores and pharmacies.

    If we think we are keeping it from “the kids, the future of America” with today’s programs, think again.

    This war was lost in the 60’s.

  66. Laws that warrant disrespect engender disrespect for the law in general. This undermines even legitimate and beneficial legislation. Yet the deleterious effects of marijuana shouldn’t be overlooked. A good compromise would be to decriminalize marijuana and allow employers to drug test their employees.

  67. Does anyone understand statistics here?

    The population of the U.S. obviously also increased since 1970; Hence, the number of marijuana arrests per capita could be the same as before even if the overall number went up.

  68. With many new announcement about the wizard of oz movies in the news, you might want to consider starting to obtain Wizard of Oz book series either as collectible or investment at RareOzBooks.com.

  69. Doesn’t anyone think it rather odd these day that we have to pee in a cup to get a job, and many of us are subject to random drug test. Do you really think that they are looking for hard drugs, they are searching out, by invading our privacy and conducting unwarranted searches, people that have smoked pot, these searches are clearly against the constitution, made warranted by the law in which the subjects have been made mute.

  70. According to FBI figures released today, about 873000 people were arrested on marijuana charges in the United States last year, 5 percent
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