Despite the fact that many states are finally legalizing the plant and the culture is starting to be more accepting, in recent years, there has actually been an increase in marijuana arrests. In fact, more often than once every minute, someone is arrested and put in a cage for marijuana possession.
Many prohibitionists and mainstream media commentators insist that police have a hands-off strategy with marijuana and that small time users never actually do any time under the current laws. However, this assessment could not be further from the truth. Marijuana possession is actually one of the most common reasons for someone to be behind bars.
According to data released this week by the FBI over 620,000 people were arrested for simple possession in the past year. This number averages out to 1,700 people per day, or one person every 51 seconds. These numbers don't even consider the many unreported arrests that take place throughout the country each year. The numbers also seem to indicate that as some states are legalizing marijuana, other states are cracking down even more in response.
Tom Angell of the Marijuana Majority responded to the data in a statement to the Washington Post, saying that, "It's unacceptable that police still put this many people in handcuffs for something that a growing majority of Americans think should be legal. There’s just no good reason that so much police time and taxpayer money is spent punishing people for marijuana when so many murders, rapes and robberies go unsolved."
Mason Tvert of the Marijuana Policy Project said that “These numbers refute the myth that nobody actually gets arrested for using marijuana. It’s hard to imagine why more people were arrested for marijuana possession when fewer people than ever believe it should be a crime. Law enforcement officials should not be wasting their time and resources arresting and prosecuting adults for using marijuana. While law enforcement was busy making nearly three quarters of a million marijuana arrests, more than 35% of murders went unsolved, the clearance rate for rape was less than 40%, and for robbery and property crimes, it was below 30%.”
“Could you imagine if hundreds of thousands of adults were arrested last year simply for possessing alcohol? That would be crazy. It’s even crazier that hundreds of thousands of adults were arrested for possessing a less harmful substance. As long as we have these silly laws on the books, law enforcement resources will be wasted on enforcing them. It’s time for state officials to step up and end the outdated policy of marijuana prohibition,” he added.
The numbers also indicated that total marijuana arrests have increased nationwide for the first time since 2009.
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In the United States, the murder clearance rate in 1965 was more than 90 percent. Since the inception of the war on drugs, the murder clearance rate has plummetted to an average of less than 65 percent per year.
This decline is in spite of there being far fewer murders. It is also in spite of new technological developments to help police solve crimes, like DNA testing, advanced forensic labs, and unethical spying devices like the stingray.
Despite the near complete erosion of the constitutional protections against unlawful search and seizure, the clearance rate for murder continued its free fall. This highlights the fact that no matter how many rights are given up or freedoms diminished, police cannot guarantee your safety.
It's not just murders that police fail to investigate, it's rapes too.
According to the Department of Justice, there are currently over 400,000 untested rape kits collecting dust in police evidence rooms nationwide, and many other estimates suggest that this number could be as high as one million.
As a result of this horrific negligence, roughly 3% of rape cases in America are actually solved. This is in spite of the fact that many rape kits have a high chance of leading to an arrest since most rapists are career criminals who have their DNA on file.
When the government is more concerned with kidnapping and locking people in a cage for possessing a plant that grows from the ground, instead of preventing and solving rapes and murders, something has gone horribly wrong.
If you think the war on drugs is an abject failure, please share this article with your friends and family to let them know how the state is more interested in a plant than they are "protecting" anyone.
John Vibes is an author, researcher and investigative journalist who takes a special interest in the counter-culture and the drug war. In addition to his writing and activist work, he organizes a number of large events including the Free Your Mind Conference, which features top caliber speakers and whistle-blowers from all over the world. You can contact him and stay connected to his work at his Facebook page. You can find his 65 chapter Book entitled “Alchemy of the Timeless Renaissance” at bookpatch.com.