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Marijuana Arrests Climb For Third Consecutive Year

Arrest for marijuana

According to data released by the FBI on Monday, marijuana arrests rose again in 2018, extending a two-year streak of increases that defies what many perceive as a nationwide trend toward liberalization. 

According to the report, 608,775 arrests were made for marijuana possession in 2018 compared with 599,282 in 2017. That’s an arrest for possession of marijuana every 51 seconds.

“At a time when the overwhelming majority of Americans want cannabis to be legal and regulated, it is an outrage that many police departments across the country continue to waste tax dollars and limited law enforcement resources on arresting otherwise law-abiding citizens for simple marijuana possession,” said Erik Altieri, Executive Director of NORML, a pro-marijuana lobbying group. 

NORML Chart US annual marijuana arrestsA recent poll by CBS News found that 65% of Americans supported legalization, up from 59% in 2018. For the first time, a majority of Republicans and Americans aged 65 and older support legal marijuana use.

But the shift in public opinion has not translated into fewer arrests. 

Marijuana Arrests Across the U.S.

The Northeast led the way in marijuana-related arrests, with marijuana distribution and possession making up 52.8% of drug-abuse violations. Close behind were the Midwest (48.8%) and the South (48.7%).

Of all regions, the West had the lowest proportion of marijuana possession and distribution arrests, at approximately 15%. 

Nationwide, 40% of drug violations were marijuana-related. In contrast, heroin, cocaine and manufactured drugs made up just 30% of violations, despite calls to address a national opioid epidemic. 

Enshrined in state statutes and indifferent to public opinion, marijuana prohibition is alive and well.

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