The latest figures are out and they’re appalling:
If these statements are true, then how do they justify the arrests of more than 853,000 people for marijuana-related violations in 2010? That’s one person arrested every 19 seconds! The Drug Czar maintains that law enforcement protocols are still considered a useful tool for eliminating suppliers and dealers as a way to decrease overall use.
Okay, that seems like it makes sense. So how many of those 853,000 arrests were for sale or manufacture of marijuana? The answer is just over 103,000. That means that more than 750,000 people were arrested last year for simple possession! A remarkably small number of people who may have distributed marijuana were arrested last year, along with three quarters of a million simple users, in an effort to curb marijuana use nationwide.
And what did all those arrests give us? A small increase in marijuana use. Marijuana is as available as it has ever been. I could have a bag of pot here in a matter of hours and I don’t even run in those circles (and haven’t smoked pot in over a decade).
What else has it gotten us? Well, it’s given 750,000 people criminal records and made it much tougher for them to find good jobs. It’s made them ineligible for Pell grants and many college scholarships in most states. It’s broken up families and consigned others to poverty for the reasons stated above. It’s cost billions of dollars, particularly at the state and local levels, where more than half of all law enforcement spending is on drug enforcement. And it’s done no good at all.
Other than that, it’s a great policy. There were more arrests for marijuana possession alone than for all violent crimes combined. Is that really a good use of resources?