Newly released FBI data shows that US police officers made 1,552,432 drug-related arrests last year. Marijuana-related crimes account for 48.3% of these arrests.
Most marijuana-related arrests were for possession. By mere possession, there was one marijuana arrest every 48 seconds in 2012. Including arrests for distribution, there was a pot-related arrest every 42 seconds, the same interval as in 2011.
Many marijuana advocates have argued that officers should focus their time and resources on violent crimes, rather than non-violent marijuana crimes. 2012 showed the first overall increase in violent crime in the US, which a .7% increase in violent crime.
“As a former prosecuting attorney myself, I believe it is irresponsible to squander our limited law enforcement resources on this disastrous public policy failure,” said Dan Riffle, Marijuana Policy Project federal policies director, in a statement. “That is especially true when so many violent crimes remain unsolved. Every second spent arresting and prosecuting adults for marijuana is time that could have been spent preventing and solving real crimes.”
The group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, made up of former and current law-enforcers who want to dampen drug prohibition, said the same.
“Each one of those arrests is the story of someone who may suffer a variety of adverse effects from their interaction with the justice system,” said LEAP Executive Director Neill Franklin, a former Maryland policeman, in a statement. “Commit a murder or a robbery and the government will still give you a student loan. Get convicted for smoking a joint and you’re likely to lose it.”