Despite the fact that medical marijuana is now legal in 25 U.S. states and weed legalization is on a tear across the land, the FBI recently released its Uniform Crime Report revealing that one person still gets arrested for weed possession every 49 seconds.
The FBI report shows that of the 1.5 million drug busts in 2015, nearly 39 percent were for weed (more than 600,000); heroine arrests were barely 19 percent, and coke only five percent.
While the number of pot possession arrests in 2015 was the lowest since 1996—and certainly a drop from 2007 when arrests peaked at nearly 800,000—these numbers still seem way too high, especially knowing what we know about cannabis.
This over-policing of pot also has an ugly racial element worth pointing out: Pot use is roughly the same among blacks, whites and Latinos; however, blacks and Latinos are 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for possession, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
Why is this futile strategy still being implemented in light of the fact that 30 million Americans have admitted to smoking weed, and U.S. authorities and science agree that pot is safe and not a gateway drug?
The Drug Policy Alliance calls these incessant arrests for pot possession “the engine driving the U.S. War on Drugs…the huge number of marijuana arrests every year usurps scarce law enforcement, criminal justice and treatment resources at enormous cost to taxpayers.”
The ACLU estimated back in 2013 that the total cost to taxpayers of pot possession enforcement was $3.6 billion.
Not to mention how a pot bust can ruin your life. Even if one does no jail time, a marijuana arrest automatically creates a permanent criminal record that can easily be found by employers, landlords, schools (no student loans for college), credit agencies and banks.
When will this insanity stop?
Let us pressure our lawmakers this November to support legalization and to reschedule marijuana. It’s time to stop treating a plant like a dangerous drug.