The FBI Uniform Crime Report for 2013 is out and shows that fewer than 700,000 people were arrested nationwide for marijuana for the first time in a decade. An estimated 693,482 people were arrested for possessing, growing, or selling marijuana in 2013. This is the lowest arrest total since 1998, when 682,885 estimated arrests occurred.
This total marks a 7.5 percent decline in marijuana arrests from 2012’s total of 749,825, meaning 56,343 fewer arrests occurred in the first full year that Colorado and Washington have legalized marijuana. In Washington, court filings for misdemeanor marijuana possession dropped from 5,531 in 2012 to just 120 in 2013, according to the ACLU of Washington. In Colorado, cases filed in state court with at least one marijuana offense plummeted from an average of over 700 per month to about 133 per month, according to the Denver Post.
This also marks the fourth straight year of declining marijuana arrests in America, continuing last year’s record decline streak. During Barack Obama’s presidency, there has been an overall 18% decline in the annual marijuana arrest total. The #1 and #4 greatest one-year declines in annual marijuana arrests have occurred on Obama’s watch. As for #2 and #3, would you believe they happened in the Reagan/Bush years, and the two greatest increases since Nixon occurred on Clinton’s watch?)
Marijuana arrests are now within about 125,000 of reaching 25 million since President Nixon declared war on “public enemy number one,” which we likely passed in March of this year. Marijuana arrests continue to fuel the greater War on Drugs, with marijuana possession comprising seven out of eight arrests for marijuana. Marijuana possession makes up almost half of all arrests nationwide for drug possession and marijuana makes up over four out of nine drug arrests overall.
Arrests for all other drugs remained virtually steady, increasing by only 0.6 percent or about 5,000. There were about 16,000 fewer arrests for heroin, cocaine, and synthetic drugs and about 21,000 more arrests for other non-narcotic drugs. Possession arrests for hard drugs make up a bit more than three out of four of all arrests for hard drugs.
In addition to Colorado and Washington legalizing marijuana in 2012, Rhode Island decriminalized marijuana possession and Massachusetts and Connecticut enacted medical marijuana programs. Currently, 128 million Americans live under medical marijuana and/or decriminalization while almost 18 million live where marijuana has been or soon shall be legalized.