While marijuana’s opposing forces often suggest there aren’t that many people these days being sent to jail for minor marijuana–related offenses, some of the latest statistics published Monday by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) shows that while these types of arrests are on the decline, one person every 49 seconds is still being sent to jail for weed.
The latest FBI Uniform Crime Report reveals that even though law enforcement is taking it easier on those caught in possession of marijuana, there are still hundreds of thousands of people being put behind bars every year over marijuana.
The report shows there were 643,121 marijuana arrests in 2015, most of which were for simple possession. In fact, only 4.6 percent of the arrests were for the illegal sale of marijuana.
But there is some good news – cops are now busting fewer people for the cannabis plant than they have in the past two decades.
Just six years ago, marijuana accounted for slightly over half the drug possession arrests across the nation. But last year that number dropped to around 43 percent – giving us a pretty good indication that law enforcement is finally beginning to wind down with respect to its hard on for pot.
“While the numbers are thankfully dropping over time, it’s alarming and simply unacceptable that someone is harassed by the police just for marijuana every 49 seconds in this country,” Tom Angell, chairman of the Marijuana Majority, told MERRY JANE.
The latest data is discouraging, especially considering when several states are gearing up to put several medical and recreational ballot measures in front of the voters later this fall. This could put the country in a position where there are more legal marijuana states than not – a momentous event that could rattle the halls of Congress and pressure both houses to start considering a plan for nationwide reform.
“Polls now consistently show that a growing majority of Americans supports full legalization, and it’s about time more politicians and law enforcement caught up,” Angell continued. “Our movement is set to more than double the number of states with legalization this November, and we won’t stop pushing until the day when no one is put into handcuffs or cages just because they choose to consume cannabis."
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, even if a person never sees the inside of a jail cell over his or her marijuana offense, “collateral consequences that flow from arrests and convictions — such as lost jobs, ineligibility for public housing, suspended driver’s licenses, and restrictions on access to federal student loans — can significantly derail lives.”