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Police Made Arrests For Cannabis Every 42 Seconds In 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) annual “Crime in the United States” report was released on Monday, revealing that American police made a total of 12,196,959 arrests last year.

The report showed that there was an estimated 1,552,432 arrests for drug-related crimes in 2012. Of those, cannabis offenses accounted for 48.3 percent of the whole, a slight decrease from the 49.5 percent in 2011.

According to the report released by the FBI on Monday, there was one cannabis arrest (distribution, possession, etc.) every 42 seconds; the same interval as 2011 despite the recent legalization in Colorado and Washington.

The results show that an estimated 749,824 arrests were made nationwide for cannabis and more than 87% of those arrests were for possession (compared to the 757,969 arrests in 2011). This means that nearly 658,231 American citizens were put in handcuffs last year for simple possession.

What’s worse is that 59.9% of rapes, 81% of property crimes, and 53.2% of all violent crimes reported in 2012 did not result in an arrest.

Dan Riffle, the director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project released a statement:

“Instead of punishing and stigmatizing responsible adult marijuana users, we should be focusing on serious crime. As a former prosecuting attorney myself, I believe it is irresponsible to squander our limited law enforcement resources on this disastrous public policy failure. That is especially true when so many violent crimes remain unsolved. Every second spent arresting and prosecuting adults for marijuana is time that could have been spent preventing and solving real crimes.

There is no greater waste of valuable taxpayer dollars than branding hundreds of thousands of otherwise law-abiding citizens as criminals simply for choosing to use a substance less harmful than alcohol. Given the fact that most Americans support taxing and regulating marijuana like alcohol, I suggest our police and prosecutors find a better use of their time.”

Neill Franklin, a former cop of 34 years and the executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) – an organization of former cops and prosecutors who support the legalization of drugs – also made a statement about the report:

“These numbers represent a tremendous loss of human potential. Each one of those arrests is the story of someone who may suffer a variety of adverse effects from their interaction with the justice system… Commit a murder or a robbery and the government will still give you a student loan. Get convicted for smoking a joint and you’re likely to lose it. This is supposed to help people get over their drug habit?”

Sadly, in the time it took you to read this post, approximately three people were arrested for cannabis related offenses.

You can read the full FBI Crime Report for 2012 here.


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