Marijuana arrests accounted for more than half of all United States drug arrests in 2009, while its use among by Americans during this same period increased by 8 percent, according to two reports released recently by government officials.
According to the FBI’s 2009 Uniform Crime Report released yesterday, U.S. law enforcement made 858,408 arrests on marijuana charges — 88 percent of which were for possession, not sale or the manufacturing of drugs. Marijuana arrests peaked in 2007 at more than 872,000, and witnessed a slight dip in 2008 at 847,863.
In 2009, an American was arrested on marijuana charges every 37 seconds.
Meanwhile, an annual report released in September by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health showed that 16.7 million Americans had used marijuana in the past month.
“It’s now more obvious than ever that decades of law enforcement efforts have absolutely failed to reduce marijuana’s use or availability, and that it’s simply an exercise in futility to continue arresting hundreds of thousands of Americans for using something that’s safer than alcohol,” said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement.
“Rather than criminalize millions of otherwise law-abiding citizens and waste billions of dollars that could be better spent combating violent crime and other real threats to public safety, it’s time we embrace sensible marijuana policies that would regulate marijuana the same way we do alcohol or tobacco.” he added.
The International Centre for Science in Drug Policy (ICSDP) released a new research report that demonstrates the clear failure of U.S. marijuana prohibition and supports calls for evidence-based models to legalize and regulate the use of cannabis. The British Medical Journal published a supportive commentary to coincide with the report’s release.
The ICSDP study utilizes twenty years of data collected by surveillance systems funded by the U.S. government to highlight the failure of cannabis prohibition in America. Despite dramatically increased law enforcement funding, the U.S. government’s data demonstrates that cannabis prohibition has not resulted in a decrease in cannabis availability or accessibility.
The report concludes by saying, “the legalization of cannabis, combined with the implementation of strict regulatory tools could help reduce cannabis-related harms, as research has demonstrated is successful in tobacco and alcohol control, when strictly enforced.”