The U.S. Department of Justice 2006 Uniform Crime report shows a record number of arrests for marijuana. 829,625 persons were arrested for marijuana violations in 2006. Marijuana arrests now make up about 44% of all drug arrests. Despite consistent use rates of marijuana arrests rates have gone up 188% over the last 15 years.
Of those charged with marijuana violations, approximately 89 percent, 738,915 Americans were charged with possession only. The remaining 90,710 individuals were charged with “sale/manufacture,” a category that includes all cultivation offenses, even those where the marijuana was being grown for personal or medical use. In past years, roughly 30 percent of those arrested were age 19 or younger.
Arrests for marijuana now outnumber arrests for all violent crimes combined.
Policy makers need to make decisions on how to adequately use the resources available. Even if you do not support legalizing drugs, it does not make sense to increase arrests for marijuana use while decreasing arrests for cocaine and heroin.
Prosecution of the drug war also has financial costs. According to NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre, “Enforcing marijuana prohibition costs taxpayers between $10 billion and $12 billion annually and has led to the arrest of nearly 20 million Americans.” The American taxpayer could use this money a lot more efficiently.