Annual Total Of Marijuana Arrests Holds Steady In 2012

Annual Total Of Marijuana Arrests Holds Steady In 2012

Washington, DC: Police made an estimated 750,000 arrests for violations of marijuana laws in 2012 according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s annual Uniform Crime Report, a total that is largely unchanged from 2011 figures, but represents a decline from the record annual highs reported between the years 2006 and 2010.

According to the report, marijuana arrests comprise nearly half (48.3 percent) of the 1.5 million annual illicit drug arrests in the United States.

"As in past years, the so-called ‘drug war’ remains fueled by the arrests of minor marijuana possession offenders," NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said. "Cannabis prohibition financially burdens taxpayers, encroaches upon civil liberties, engenders disrespect for the law, impedes upon legitimate scientific research into the plant’s medicinal properties, and disproportionately impacts communities of color. It is time for lawmakers and law enforcement to listen to the voters and to stop stigmatizing and criminalizing tens of millions of Americans for choosing to consume a substance that is safer than either tobacco or alcohol."

Of those charged in 2011 with marijuana law violations, 658,231 (86 percent) were arrested for marijuana offenses involving possession only. The remaining 91,593 individuals were charged with "sale/manufacture," a category that includes virtually all cultivation offenses.

The arrest totals come at a time when numerous state and national polls indicate that strong majorities of American voters no longer support arresting or criminally prosecuting adults who possess or consume cannabis.

By region, the percentage of marijuana arrests was highest in the Midwest and in the South (52 percent and 51 percent of all illicit drug arrests respectively) and was lowest in the west, where cannabis violations comprised only 22 percent of total drug arrests.

For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500 or Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: