The FBI has released the 2012 Uniform Crime Report and it shows that drug law violations were the single most common cause for arrest in the United States, with the overwhelming majority of those arrests being for possession only. The numbers are quite ridiculous.
Drug offenses remained the single most common cause of arrest in 2012, mostly for offenses involving mere possession, according to newly released FBI estimates. Of the 12.2 million estimated arrests 1.55 million were for “drug abuse violations.” Some 82 percent of those were for possession offenses, and 42.4 percent for marijuana possession. That is the equivalent of a drug arrest every 20 seconds, and a marijuana arrest every 42 seconds, according to calculations by Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a group of law enforcement officials who support the regulated legalization of drugs.
“These numbers represent a tremendous loss of human potential,” said LEAP Executive Director Neill Franklin, who was a police officer for 34 years. 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.” Among those effects are ineligibility for federal student loans, which applies only to convictions for drug offenses, or involuntary civil commitment for a sexual offense.
“Commit a murder or a robbery and the government will still give you a student loan,” Franklin said. “Get convicted for smoking a joint and you’re likely to lose it. This is supposed to help people get over their drug habit?”
If you changed those facts slightly and said that 1.55 million people had been arrested for violating the prohibition of alcohol and 82% of them merely for possessing alcohol, nearly everyone would be up in arms over it. Yet alcohol kills far more people than all illegal drugs combined every year. But we tried alcohol prohibition and learned that it didn’t work. It’s time we figured that out about other forms of drugs as well.