US Marijuana Arrests Remain Largely Unchanged in 2012

The FBI released their crime and arrest statistics for 2012 today and, despite the fact that a majority of Americans believe that marijuana should be legalized, the total marijuana related arrests in the United States is largely unchanged year over year.

In 2012, marijuana arrests as a percentage of all drug arrests dipped very slightly from 49.5% in 2011 to 48.3% last year. This puts the total number of marijuana arrests at about 749,825 (compared to 757,969 arrests in 2011). 87% of these arrests were for possession only, meaning that about 658,231 Americans were forced into handcuffs last year for nothing more than simple possession. Another 91,593 were arrested for sale or manufacturing charges.

That means a marijuana consumer is arrested for possession every 48 seconds. In the time it took you to read this short blog post, another marijuana consumer was taken to jail. Meanwhile, the occurrences of violent crime ticked up to 1,214,462 reported incidents, an increase of 0.7% over 2011 totals.

You can view the FBI Crime Report for 2012 here.

16 thoughts

  1. Well, of course, marijuana users are non-violent, non-threatening, and easy to take down. They’re great to pad your numbers with and make it look like you’re a great hero who defends Truth, Justice and the American Way without actually risking anything. And there are billion dollar companies that also want to use those numbers and the Drug War in general to “justify” their profiteering, and they’re the ones who are really running the show. What, did you actually think the will of the people has any power anymore? Government is a bought-and-paid-for corporate commodity, always for sale to the highest bidder as a gang of thugs for the rich to use to force their own minority will on the rest of us.

  2. Has some one actually worked out what the cost of these arrests is (and subsequent processing through the legal system) ? Not to mention the pain, anguish and social stigma these arrests cause.

  3. I love America but I really hate those responsible for the continued idiocy of ruining the lives of otherwise good law abiding fellow Americans!!!

  4. Marijuana prohibition is truly America’s number one Government Approved scam! There will always be low-lifes that rise into public office and then use it to steal from the rest of us and they are disgusting. If you want some examples of who I’m talking about, look no further than the people in Congress. I’d estimate that at least half of them are crooks! If you want to know why marijuana is still illegal after 70 years of prohibition you don’t need to look any further than that; and of course the Congress is led by none other than John Boehner which I think speaks volumes about his character!

  5. @Elaine, don’t be overanxious to throw angry epithets like low-life, remember good people can do bad stuff for corrupt reasons under certain conditions, how convenient that you mention Boehner. The Speaker has had men from Philip Morris and R. J. Reynolds on his Advisory Council, has received $100,000’s from tobacco industry, has been a “low-tar” habitual $igarette smoker up to last time I googled. My suggestion is “Forgive—Convert—>Redeploy”. Boehner knows there is cropland that could produce industrial hemp in southern Ohio and like the two right-wing Kentucky Senators he will give way gradually on cannabis in general.

  6. P.S I forgot the punch line: Big 2WackGio profits from this presecution against cannabis users because it makes cannabis seem

    (A) much more Dangerous to experiment with using or possessing than addictive nicotine tobackgo, and lures kids in the “social smoking” age to try “a cigarette” instead.

    (B) Economics: the general crackdown on suppliers keeps cannabis ten times as expensive per weight as the tobacco in the “regular” $igarettes, luring kids into the “drug they can afford”.

  7. I need help! I am allowed to use marijuana for medical reasons in my home state, so I am legal here, but I have a custody battle in another state where they don’t have such laws. I need to take a drug test as part of the procedure. Should I cheat using cleansing products like those at or should I hope they understand that I am not breaking any of my local laws?

  8. According to statistics, cannabis offenses make up about one-third of all arrests.

    Considering the vast number of different crimes that can be committed, yet 33% of all arrests for possession(mostly), cultivation, or distribution…for one of the safest substances known to man, according to Francis Young, DEA Administrative Law Judge,
    [[ ]]


    Drug Enforcement Administration
    In The Matter Of )
    ) Docket No. 86-22

    Administrative LAW JUDGE.

    FRANCIS L. YOUNG, Administrative Law Judge

    DATED: SEP 6 1988

    Findings of Fact
    Point 3. The most obvious concern when dealing with drug safety is the possibility of lethal effects. Can the drug cause death?

    4. Nearly all medicines have toxic, potentially lethal effects. But marijuana is not such a substance. There is no record in the extensive medical literature describing a proven, documented cannabis-induced fatality.

    5. This is a remarkable statement. First, the record on marijuana encompasses 5,000 years of human experience. Second, marijuana is now used daily by enormous numbers of people throughout the world. Estimates suggest that from twenty million to fifty million Americans routinely, albeit illegally, smoke marijuana without the benefit of direct medical supervision. Yet, despite this long history of use and the extraordinarily high numbers of social smokers, there are simply no credible medical reports to suggest that consuming marijuana has caused a single death.

    6. By contrast aspirin, a commonly used, over-the-counter medicine, causes hundreds of deaths each year.

    7. Drugs used in medicine are routinely given what is called an LD-50. The LD-50 rating indicates at what dosage fifty percent of test animals receiving a drug will die as a result of drug induced toxicity. A number of researchers have attempted to determine marijuana’s LD-50 rating in test animals, without success. Simply stated, researchers have been unable to give animals enough marijuana to induce death.

    8. At present it is estimated that marijuana’s LD-50 is around

    1:20,000 or 1:40,000. In layman terms this means that in order to induce death a marijuana smoker would have to consume 20,000 to 40,000 times as much marijuana as is contained in onemarijuana cigarette. NIDA-supplied marijuana cigarettes weigh approximately .9 grams. A smoker would theoretically have to consume nearly 1,500 pounds of marijuana within about fifteen minutes to induce a lethal response.

    9. In practical terms, marijuana cannot induce a lethal response as a result of drug-related toxicity.

    10. Another common medical way to determine drug safety is called the therapeutic ratio. This ratio defines the difference between a therapeutically effective dose and a dose which is capable of inducing adverse effects.

    11. A commonly used over-the-counter product like aspirin has a therapeutic ratio of around 1:20. Two aspirins are the recommended dose for adult patients. Twenty times this dose, forty aspirins, may cause a lethal reaction in some patients, and will almost certainly cause gross injury to the digestive system, including extensive internal bleeding.

    12. The therapeutic ratio for prescribed drugs is commonly around 1:10 or lower. Valium, a commonly used prescriptive drug, may cause very serious biological damage if patients use ten times the recommended (therapeutic) dose.

    13. There are, of course, prescriptive drugs which have much lower therapeutic ratios. Many of the drugs used to treat patients with cancer, glaucoma and multiple sclerosis are highly toxic. The therapeutic ratio of some of the drugs used in antineoplastic [anti-tumor] therapies, for example, are regarded as extremely toxic poisons with therapeutic ratios that may fall below 1:1.5. These drugs also have very low LD-50 ratios and can result in toxic, even lethal reactions, while being properly employed.

    14. By contrast, marijuana’s therapeutic ratio, like its LD-50, is impossible to quantify because it is so high.
    15. In strict medical terms marijuana is far safer than many foods we commonly consume. For example, eating ten raw potatoes can result in a toxic response. By comparison, it is physically impossible to eat enough marijuana to induce death.

    16. Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. By any measure of rational analysis marijuana can be safely used within a supervised routine of medical care.”

    ….So there shouldn’t be ANY arrests at all for cannabis according to the DEA’s own authority. And now how many arrests have there been for cannabis? I think it’s over 26 million cannabis arrests so far? That is 26 million wrongful arrests, that later forced law-abiding citizens to struggle to avoid imprisonment, human rights violations, privacy violations, breaches of medical confidentiality, property seizure (plain theft off the record), no-knock home invasions, and the absurdity of absurdity, being forced into the travesty billion dollar industry called “drug treatment” (usually 12-step groups, religious in nature, and that teaches NOTHING vaguely useful about how to be abstinent, instead doing pointless steps) to avoid being caged up.

    When all the other states follow and make cannabis legal, which they will, what the hell is “law” enforcement going to do with a loss of 33% of their arrests (a bizarre measure of “success”)? Where will they get their supply of weed when they can no longer just carry it out of evidence storage and take it home?

    They’ll need to make up for the revenue. The task of arresting a peaceful cannabis user and confiscating his property was probably like easy money easy street, pretend-public-safety.

    Frivolous other arrests are likely on the way.

    Not even a minute of a person’s time should be wasted over cannabis by one person’s imposition of ‘authority’ on another person.

    And just like Nixon ignored the Shafer commission’s report which mirrors Judge Young’s statements, he planned the whole time to make pot illegal again after Timothy Leary destroyed the Marihuana Tax Stamp Act in audience of the Supreme Court. If only Hairy Asslicker had been alive to see his malicious scheme ridiculed. They didn’t plan to ever give any stamps out anyway, but if you wanted one, a person had to go to the police station and report how much weed they had, or planned to grow…to get a stupid stamp. A law based on self-incrimination is further proof that powers behind cannabis prohibition were not only evil sick people but also very stupid.

    The world seems to be a crazy place, but upon more careful consideration, this problem was created by Nixon and the invisible money powers he served, as their errand boy. Just like he carried out their plan to create HMO’s and ruining health care. Just like he campaigned twice! to end the genocide in Vietnam and both times after winning, did not do so, in fact he escalated the bombings of unarmed and poor rice farmers.

    So arrest rates for cannabis are the same? Not surprising. It must be too hard to go after real criminals (maybe because a lot of them are elected officials?).

  9. .
    Anyone know how many arrests in total for marijuana have been made since it was made illegal?

    Also of interest would be man years spent in jail, man years spent on enforcement and total cost in today’s dollars.

    Some day it will be interesting to look back at those numbers when marijuana is fully legal and there is widespread agreement that it was a total waste.

    [Editor’s note: Since cannabis prohibition began in the United States in 1937 approximately 23.4 million people have been arrested on cannabis-only related charges–88% for possession only. Regrettably, state and federal government have failed to produce incarceration data despite numerous formal requests and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) inquires from groups like NORML, Sentencing Project, FAMM and ACLU.]

  10. I have had siezures for along time and the only thing that really helps is marijunna. I had 7 siezures in one day and took me a week just to learn how to walk again. I ‘m trying to find out how I can apply for a NC state tax form. I’ve looked every where

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