After Rising Dramatically, Marijuana Arrests Are Falling in New York City and Across the Country



A policy that took effect in New York City this week is expected to accelerate a downward trend in marijuana arrests, which are also falling nationwide after rising dramatically during the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations. In my latest Forbes column, I consider the causes and consequences of this cannabis crackdown. Here is how the piece begins:

In 1992, when Americans elected a president who said he had smoked pot without inhaling, the number of marijuana arrests in the United States began a steep climb. It peaked in 2007, during the administration of a president who refused to say whether he had smoked pot because he worried about setting a bad example for the youth of America. Since 2009, when a president who "inhaled frequently" because "that was the point" took office, the number of marijuana arrests has fallen steadily—a trend that continued last year, according to FBI numbers released last week.

Read the whole thing.

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  1. Police union officials were not pleased by De Blasio's decision to ease up on cannabis consumers. "I just see it as another step in giving the streets back to the criminals," Michael Palladino, president of the Detectives' Endowment Association, told The New York Times. "And we keep inching closer and closer to that."

    They know the score. The fewer things we allow to be made criminal, the fewer arrests law enforcement can make. (And pot busts are probably the easiest way to reach their quota.) And eventually the question will be, "Why do we need so many officers?"

    1. New York city's police force needs to be bigger than Canada's army. Why do you want to give the streets back to the criminals?

      1. The criminals control the streets right now.

        1. Oh yeah, I meant the criminals without uniforms.

    2. Michael Palladino, president of the Detectives' Endowment Association,

      Police officers endowed?

      1. Not in my experience.

        (dodges beer bottles)

        Thank you. I'll be here all week. Be sure to try the spicy wings.

        1. So, you were on a hung jury?

    3. That is it. Things can't go back to the 80s with open air drug markets unless the cops stop doing their jobs. Every other drug is still illegal. And it is not like such places only sold weed.

      Doing this robs the cops of cheap arrests to keep their bosses happy. That is it. Without being able to bust people for pot, its a lot harder to make being black in the wrong neighborhood arrests. Cops will have to start actually investigating crimes or working for a living and no one wants that.


    That is all.

  3. Mr. Sullum,

    Now that Obama has effectively rescheduled the immigration status of 4-5 million people--without any input from Congress--even your friend Mark Kleiman should see rescheduling marijuana is about as easy as can be.

    In fact, why doesn't Obama simply refuse to prosecute federal marijuana cases by executive order?

    I doubt all of the states would follow suit, but given such impetus, some of them probably would. There's more than one way to get those arrest statistics down.

    1. Obama's authority exists in a state of quantum superposition: He both does and doesn't have the authority until he has to do or not do. And never mind that on marijuana, Obama would have a much stronger legal position, thanks to a provision of the Controlled Substances Act that we're not supposed to notice.

      1. Yes. Obama is Schrodinger's Executive.

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