FBI: Marijuana Arrests Spike For Second Straight Year

Washington, DC: The total number of persons arrested in the United States for violating marijuana laws rose for the second consecutive year, according to data released on Monday by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.

According to the 2017 edition of the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, police made 659,700 arrests for marijuana-related violations last year. That is more than 21 percent higher than the total number of persons arrested in 2017 for the commission of all violent crimes (518,617).

Of those arrested for marijuana crimes, just under 91 percent (599,000) were arrested for marijuana possession offenses, a slight increase over last year’s annual totals. Total marijuana arrests in 2017 increased for the second straight year, after having fallen for nearly a decade. The uptick comes at a time when ten states, including California, have legalized the adult use of cannabis – leading to a significant decline in marijuana-related arrests in those jurisdictions.

“Actions by law enforcement run counter to both public support and basic morality,” NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said. “In a day and age where twenty percent of the population lives in states which have legalized and nearly every state has some legal protections for medical cannabis or its extract, the time has come for lawmakers to end this senseless and cruel prohibition that ruins lives.”

As in previous years, marijuana possession arrests were least likely to occur in the western region of the United States, where possessing the plant has largely been either legalized or decriminalized. By contrast, in Midwestern states, marijuana-related arrests comprised over 53 percent of all drug arrests.

For more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at (202) 483-5500.

The 2017 FBI report, “Crime in the United States,” is available online. State-specific arrests data through the year 2016 is available online.