Law enforcement agents in the U.S. arrested 1,638,846 people last year for drug abuse violations, according to an FBI report released today, surpassing arrests for all other crimes. In a press release, the drug reform group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition says that comes out to roughly one arrest every 19 seconds.
The other revelation contained in the FBI's report is that 81.9 percent of those arrests, or roughly 1,327,00, were for possession. Of that statistic, marijuana possession made up nearly half the arrests at 45.8 percent. Possession of heroine, cocaine, or a derivative made up 16.4 percent of arrests, possession of synthetic drugs made up 4.1 percent, and possession of "other dangerous non-narcotic drugs" made up 15.7 percent of arrests.
On the supply side, 6.3 percent of arrests were for manufacturing marijuana, 6.2 percent of arrests were for manufacturing heroine, cocaine, and their derivatives, 1.8 percent of arrests were for manufacturing synthetic drugs, and 3.7 percent of arrests were for manufacturing "other dangerous non-narcotic drugs."
Retired Baltimore police officer Neill Franklin, who heads up LEAP, had this to say about the FBI's numbers: "Since the declaration of the 'war on drugs' 40 years ago we've arrested tens of millions of people in an effort to reduce drug use. The fact that cops had to spend time arresting another 1.6 million of our fellow citizens last year shows that it simply hasn't worked. In the current economy we simply cannot afford to keep arresting three people every minute in the failed 'war on drugs.'"