Drug War

Drug Arrests Down, Pot Arrests Up


According to FBI data released yesterday, police arrested 1,663,582 people on drug charges in the United States last year, slightly fewer than the 1,702,537 arrested in 2008. A little more than half of the drug arrests involved marijuana, and nearly 9 out of 10 marijuana arrests involved possession, as opposed to sale or manufacturing. The number of marijuana arrests, 858,408, was up slightly from the previous year's total, 847,863, but still lower than the historic peak of 872,721 in 2007.

As I've noted before, there is no obvious relationship between marijuana arrests and marijuana use. Although arrests have more than doubled since the early 1990s, the number of pot smokers was no lower in 2008 than it was in 1990 and perhaps somewhat higher, even allowing for methodological changes that seem to have boosted self-reported drug use after 2001.

Sources: FBI Uniform Crime Reports, National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (1990-2001), National Survey on Drug Use and Health (2002-2008)

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  1. How can any intelligent person above the age of eight not see this as insane?

    1. I’m looking at you Mr. President.

    2. The average persons thought process…

      Cause drugs are bad, OK. Anything bad but fun is addictive and should be illegal to protect us. We did it when we were young but others may not handle it, OK. Besides, its for the children, we don’t want them on drugs.

    3. But think of the children…

  2. Why did MS set their excel? linegraph default to fucia? Damn that is hard to look at.

    1. “Can I get the icon cornflower blue?”

  3. As more and more Americans start to question our criminalization of pot, the drug crusaders arrest more people for it.

    1. You have to admit, being able to lock someone in a cage for possessing a plant is a very useful tool if you are one of the authoritarian dickbags that are attracted to power. Prop 19 in Cali is one of the most exciting things to happen in this country in a long time, the ramifications could be big if it passes.

      1. Fuck being able to lock someone in a cage. They can fine someone $2,500.

        1. Fuck being able to fine them. They can take all their material possessions.

  4. This is so ridiculous! can we get Gary Johnson in the white house already so we can get this taken care of???

  5. there is no obvious relationship between marijuana arrests and marijuana use

    Is there any correlation between any crime’s rate of occurrence and the arrest rate for the crime? I’d expect an inverse one, or a kind of asymptotic-looking one, like in the chart up there.

    I mean, if you murder a politician, you get caught (or somebody else gets railroaded). If you bomb a church, you probably get caught. If you smuggle heroin in your vag, you might get caught. If you steal a BEAVER DR. sign for your dorm wall, no one gives a shit.

    Every BEAVER-room jackhole on earth smokes pot now, so the cops basically don’t care. But pot-smoking correlates (marginally) with idiocy, so more pot-smoking idiots are probably effectively forcing the cops to bust ’em, by being idiots. Hence the chart. Is my guess.

  6. Pot is very bad for you. We must keep you safe from it. Even if it means that we have to be the biggest fucking morons in history.


  7. It may not be correlated with pot smokers, but I bet it is correlated with the use of “police” as a jobs program for dumb white guys.

  8. Okay, I’ll be the idiot.

    How can there be almost 3x as many Pot Arrests as Pot Smokers? Did everyone in the country except me get arrested three times?

    1. Check the key, arrests are in 1000s, users are in 100,000s

      and put down the bong!

    2. Because smokers is in 100k units and arrestees in 1k units. What the chart should do is represent each as a percentage of a baseline year.

    3. Are you stoned, or stupid?

  9. That chart is darn hard to read and it’s not just the colors. Is the table available as plain text? I can make a proper chart.

  10. From the hodgepodge of tables the oas published, it’s obvious they don’t want anyone making charts over time.

  11. FYI, completing the roundup of Cali rags saying to vote no, here’s the San Francisco Chronicle:

    “This is a seriously flawed initiative with contradictions and complications that would invite legal chaos.”

    Harassing, Incarcerating and Killing: Because Who Wants Legal Chaos?

  12. A little context, please. According to the data, an “arrest” is counted every time someone is arrested, CITED or SUMMONED. The vast majority of these people are getting tickets now, especially here in CA. The idea that pot smokers are filling prisons (or even jails) to the brim is fantasy. And this is coming from someone who is voting for Prop 19.

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