Free Minds & Free Markets

Pot Busts Rise for the First Time Since 2009

Despite decriminalization and legalization in some states, there were more than 700,000 marijuana arrests last year.

New FBI data indicate that the number of marijuana arrests in the United States rose last year for the first time since 2009. The change, from 693,482 in 2013 to 700,993 in 2014, represented an increase of just 1 percent, but it suggests that enforcement has intensified in jurisdictions where possessing small amounts of marijuana is still an arrestable offense. In recent years states such as Massachusetts, California, Colorado, and Washington have eliminated such arrests, contributing to a downward trend that began in 2010. Marijuana arrests also have fallen sharply in New York City since 2011 and continued to fall there in 2014. Last year's national total was still 18 percent lower than the 2009 peak of 858,408.FBIFBI

"On average," notes the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), "one person was arrested for a marijuana-related offense in the U.S. approximately every 45 seconds" in 2014. As usual, possession (as opposed to cultivation of distribution) accounted for the vast majority (88 percent) of marijuana arrests, which in turn accounted for almost half (45 percent) of all drug arrests. Total drug arrests also rose last year, from 1,501,043 to 1,561,231, after falling in 2013. 


"These numbers refute the myth that nobody actually gets arrested for using marijuana," says Mason Tvert, MPP's communications director. "It’s hard to imagine why more people were arrested for marijuana possession when fewer people than ever believe it should be a crime. Law enforcement officials should not be wasting their time and resources arresting and prosecuting adults for using marijuana."

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    They're usually easy arrests.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Got to hit them quota numbers.

  • MichaelL||

    It is also a reflection of their continued employment. If they start arresting fewer, their numbers will be decreased. That would look terrible on the unemployment books! That would affect prison and police employment, fewer judges would be needed, and lawyers' incomes would drop!

  • EndTheGOP||

    Pigs will always be pigs. There's no getting around that.

  • UnCivilServant||

    Those 90's cops were slackers.

  • UnCivilServant||

    I mean 60's... but funnily enough it also meshes up with another dip.

  • Nosea||

    I'm not quite certain all these are an influx of small possessions, since growing marijuana is now down to a science . I suspect many of those are people trying to grow their own cash crops.

  • GILMORE™||

    " I suspect many of those are people trying to grow their own cash crops."


    88% were possession.

    Its actually not that hard to 'look into the issue' before making baseless speculation.

    (i almost miss Bo now)

  • GILMORE™||

    "Marijuana arrests also have fallen sharply in New York City"

    Marijuana arrests in NYC peaked (in the 40-50,000 range) and have fallen back to current (20-25,000) levels... twice now.... between 1999-2005, then 2010-2014

    as a longtime resident who spent a lot of time, uh, doing nothing particularly productive around the city in the early 1990s.... these "lower" numbers are still absurd.

    To quote Hank Paulson - "Better is Not Good"


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