There is an increase in the support for legalising cannabis. but there is an increase in the number of cannabis-based arrests too


Cannabis is a legal multi-billion dollar industry, yet someone in America is arrested every 48 seconds for a cannabis related crime.

Though, cannabis is now legal in 29 states for either medical or recreational use, the number of arrests involving cannabis have actually increased across the country.

Those numbers come from the Uniformed Crime Report compiled by the FBI from data sent to the agency from law enforcement operations around the country. The information covers arrests for all of 2016.

The number of people arrested on cannabis-related charges jumped 12 percent from 2015 to 2016, with 75,000 more people arrested. Overall, the number of drug-related arrests reached 1.57 million, about 5.6 percent higher than in 2015.

The FBI typically releases arrest numbers in the annual report broken down by the drug involved. However, they did not do so for 2016. Reporters had to return to the FBI and ask for the specific numbers on cannabis.

According to the Marijuana Policy Project, a pro-legalization group, the numbers were as follows:

  • There were 653,249 arrests involving cannabis
  • That’s about one arrest involving cannabis every 48 seconds
  • Cannabis arrests made up more than 41 percent of all drug busts in the U.S. in 2016

No matter how you look at it, those are very strange numbers in a country where cannabis is legal in so many places.

Morgan Fox, communications director of the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a prepared statement that the arrest numbers show cannabis users “continue to be treated like criminals across the country.”

“This is a shameful waste of resources and can create lifelong consequences for the people arrested.”

It’s already been reported that cannabis-related arrests in Washington D.C. tripled between 2015 and 2016. They are on pace so far in 2017 to have a similarly high number of arrests. Arrests numbers are also up in many states in the Deep South.

The cost to taxpayers for arresting and processing that many people through the legal system is in the billions, according to Newsweek.

All of this seemingly runs contradictory to public sentiment, not only on the War on Drugs but on cannabis. Support for cannabis legalization reached a new high in a survey released earlier this year by CBS News.

About 61 percent of those surveyed in the poll think cannabis should be legal, while 71 percent opposed federal intervention in states that have made cannabis legal.