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Sattler writes: "Arrests for marijuana exceeded arrests for violent crime by more than 100,000, according to a report from the FBI."

Marijuana arrests have doubled since 1980. (photo: Shutterstock)
Marijuana arrests have doubled since 1980. (photo: Shutterstock)

Marijuana Arrests Now Exceed Arrests for Violent Crime

By Jason Sattler, National Memo

21 January 13


n 2011, arrests for marijuana exceeded arrests for violent crime by more than 100,000, according to a report from the FBI.

Though marijuana laws have become liberalized - with 18 states legalizing the drug for medicinal use and two now explicitly allowing recreational use as the result of ballot initiatives - marijuana arrests have doubled since 1980, according to this analysis from the Huffington Post:


Marijuana is still illegal under federal law, presenting a law-enforcement challenge. Late last year, President Obama said that his administration would not go after recreational users of the drug.

"We've got bigger fish to fry," Obama said. "It would not make sense for us to see a top priority as going after recreational users in states that have determined that it's legal."

A bare majority of Americans support regulating the drug like alcohol. That majority is substantially larger among young people, as it has been for decades.

The total number of marijuana arrests suggests an epidemic of wasted resources, especially as America faces the question of how to deal with gun violence - which claims more than 30,000 lives a year.

According to NRA representative Jim Baker, Vice President Biden said that the federal government lacks the resources to prosecute those who may be lying on firearms background check applications.

"And to your point, Mr. Baker, regarding the lack of prosecutions on lying on Form 4473s, we simply don't have the time or manpower to prosecute everybody who lies on a form, that checks a wrong box, that answers a question inaccurately," Biden allegedly said.

While the resources that go into prosecuting marijuana crimes are often local, more than half a million arrests a year suggests that in a time of cutbacks America can't afford to spend an estimated $10 billion on marijuana arrests. New York spent $75 million in 2010, prompting Governor Cuomo to call for decriminalization of marijuana possession under 15 grams.

MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry recently said that ending the drug war would be the "best gun control measure we can enact.

With Cuomo, a presumptive candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, bringing the issue to the fore, this may finally be a conversation America can have. your social media marketing partner


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+99 # NanFan 2013-01-21 13:23
Unbelievable when you think about the fact that no one, no one dies from smoking marijuana. Over 400,000 people die per year from the smoke from LEGALIZED tobacco products, and the crime of manufacturing them with deadly chemicals goes without the FDA controlling it, and without those who manufacture them ever being incarcerated for the deaths they contribute to.

What is this fear we have of marijuana that makes it remain illegal in the US? It is totally unfounded, as we know that there are medical benefits of it. Yet, when it appears to be costing a lot more money than wanted to prosecute and incarcerate marijuana "crimes," THEN, and only then, do we have states decriminalizing it. Unreal.

Perhaps when states begin to look at what the healthcare costs are for those impacted from the smoke from tobacco products, THEN, and only then, will they look to criminalizing the production of addictive tobacco products with deadly chemicals.

Once again, we have our priorities really screwed up in this country.

We need to care about the People, not the money!!

+68 # Erdajean 2013-01-21 16:44
Nan, I expect we BOTH know the source of the "fear:" the pharmaceutical lobbyists are going to be SURE that we can't grow our own pain relief and natural "calm and comfort" in our own back yards. THINK how Pharma's cash flow would suffer, if all the anti-depressant , anti-nausea and general aches and pains pills were rendered "SO yesterday!" by a weed we can grow free, in a pot in the kitchen window!

That's ONE thing that makes anti-weed laws such a federal no-no. Another is that if law enforcement can fill up the jails with mellow folks who aren't so hard to catch, it keeps them looking good.

Worst of all, the focus on the "War on Drugs" is SUPPOSED to keep us from casting an accusing eye on the world's most vile criminals, still loose among us -- and living on royal pensions WE have to pay as long as these treasonous mass killers may live.

Whew! The truth makes a person need a little puff real bad!
+1 # NanFan 2013-01-23 13:05
Well said, Erdajean! But what gets me is that the pharmaceuticals companies manufacture "marinol" and it is legal to dispense and to use in the US; it contains marijuana that helps cancer and AIDS and other patients with nausea and eating and pain, etc. So by recognizing this ability of marijuana to help medically, and making this drug, the pharmaceutical companies should be jumping up and down to harness the plant in even more meaningful ways to help those who need it without debilitating chemical drugs.

And the FDA should NOT have marijuana in the same class as overtly narcotic drugs, as they do! They SHOULD put the entire manufactured tobacco products in that deadliest category, but they only put nicotine in a drug class that is lower than marijuana, though nicotine is highly addictive, as we all know.

Enough. This world is nuts...and, yes, the truth DOES make a person need a BIG puff...real bad! ;>)

+35 # maddave 2013-01-21 17:38
OF COURSE, marijuana users are busted more frequently than violent or crazy criminals. This is because of two very logical reasons:
1. There are vastly more post smokers than there are truly- violent criminals and psychopaths.
2. If you were a cop and had a choice between arresting a whole bunch of happy non-violent Cheato-munching pot smokers and one really mean m-f with a deadly weapon, what would YOU do?

Yeah. Me too,
+45 # robniel 2013-01-21 17:43
Quoting NanFan:

Once again, we have our priorities really screwed up in this country.

We need to care about the People, not the money!!


[quote name="NanFan"]

This is one consequence of privatizing the prison system, where money is made by incarcinating offenders. Marijuana use should be regarded as a medical problem (if that!) rather than a criminal problem.
+18 # brux 2013-01-21 18:15
A byproduct of caring only about the money is that to the people making decisions, they real people of the country are not visible except as statistics, and they get steamrolled every time some insulated dumb-ass thinks they have a good idea that might save some money - it is on the backs of legitimate Americans that should have the same rights as the rich and the corporations.
+4 # Depressionborn 2013-01-21 18:26
Big gov needs big money, sorry.
+4 # tpmco 2013-01-21 22:49
If I may slightly disagree, Nan, we need to care about our freedom. When we start doing that, the people will be able to take care of the people.
+1 # Sweet Pea 2013-01-22 11:05
Care about the people? Get real. One of our main killers in this country is high calorie foods and overeating that causes many deaths from heart problems. Or, you could look at the deaths caused by alcohol-consumi ng drivers, or the homicides commited by people under the influence of alcohol. I think it would be an excellent idea if the government legalized and taxed marijuana just like they do alcohol and tobacco. Strangely, they do not tax food. Perhaps the government should tax people on the amount of lbs. that they are overweight. It seems that the government "thinks" that they can tax addictions away. Go ahead and legalize and tax marijuana, I don't care, I haven't smoked it and have no desire to smoke it.
+81 # jmac9 2013-01-21 13:54
Prohibition causes black markets.

Prohibition wastes your tax dollars to fund prisons, prison guards, DEA, police, swat-team equipment.

Prohibition turns control of product, distribution, age access, quality control and contract - over to street gangs and international crime syndicates.

Prohibition steals your personal responsibility and says the State has control of you and knows better than you.

Prohibition is the fraud - the criminal enterprise.

Bush didn’t want to find and kill Osama Bin Laden, he needed him alive to use as the ‘bogey man’ of fear to keep the fraudulent ‘war on terror’ going.

In the same way, prison guards, the DEA, the CIA, the US government don’t want to see the end of Prohibition – it’s the ‘bogey man’ of fear to keep their money, jobs, and tyranny going.

Reagan used the Prohibition drug market to illegally fund his ‘Iran-Contra’ scam, the DEA under Bush’s “Fast and Furious” scam is supplying – not tracking - weapons to Mexican drug gangs. The CIA uses the Prohibition drug market to fund illegal operations. Police use Prohibition to destroy your civil rights.

All of it is a trillion dollar fraud to maintain, the idea, the policy of police state - called Prohibition.
+29 # maddave 2013-01-21 18:08
The litany of reasons why marijuana ought to be decriminalized, controlled and taxed - not to mention its medicinal value - fills volumes. However, the weed proves to be its own worst enemy BECAUSE - among other very valid reasons - it is the largest cash crop in many states and it produces an illegal revenue of probably $150+ billion/year in the USA alone. Add to this a drug-only prison tab of $50 billion/year, paid from our pockets (in taxes) . . . plus another $100 billion in taxes that's squandered on our losing war on drugs, and it's clear that illegal marijuana is a major "positive" factor in our economy.

Money is power, and "the powerful" are happy with the status quo. If America's moneyed interests weren't benefitting from illegal drugs it in some way, this quagmire that Richard Nixon got us into would have been drained and filled decades ago.
+54 # CenTexDem 2013-01-21 16:00
How many arrests for the financial crimes of the Great Recession that we still suffer from today and for the long term?
+55 # ghostperson 2013-01-21 16:01
If they had arrested everyone who used the demon weed in the 60s and 70s, there would have been no generation X.

Sure, go after those who have quantities indicative of trafficking but the small potatos users...serious ly? Don't we have bigger problems to deal with.

Looks like we lock up the little guys for infractions and let the fat cats get away with high crimes with impunity. This is not a criminal justice system, it is a criminal justice circus in which the small guy always loses and the rich guy always wins.
+39 # tbcrawford 2013-01-21 16:14
I wonder how much media coverage this horrific statistic will attract. Didn't Prohibition prove a stimulant to crime? Only possible conclusion: An intended government policy is support for the corporate prison industry to eliminate poor minorities. With such leadership, who needs terrorists?
+34 # humanmancalvin 2013-01-21 16:26
How utterly absurd that this sad state of affairs is governed by the religious moral police.
+36 # Buddha 2013-01-21 16:55
Most states, like my state California, now have to spend more money on our Gulag State (police, courts, jails, etc), of which most are imprisoned for non-violent drug offenses, than they do on their education systems. I cannot think of a single policy change that would benefit the bottom line of the finances of our states more than ending the Failed Drug War, and for marijuana at least, taxing it and reglating it as with alcohol. But it won't happen, the Drug War has now become a jobs program...not for those incarcerated, they won't be able to get jobs thanks to their records, but for judges, lawyers, our prison-guard lobby, for our for-profit prison corporations, etc., and our citizens are just meat for that machine.
+36 # cafetomo 2013-01-21 17:10
Nothing would make enforcement happier,
nothing would make prisons emptier,
nothing would make all of us safer, than to remove a pervasive element of criminality from society with a simple bit of legislation.

One less reason for people to go around pointing loaded weapons at one another?

Why not?
+12 # maddave 2013-01-21 17:36
OF COURSE, marijuana users are busted more frequently than violent or crazy criminals. This is because of two very logical reasons:
1. There are vastly more post smokers than there are truly- violent criminals and psychopaths.
2. If you were a cop and had a choice between arresting a whole bunch of happy non-violent Cheato-munching pot smokers and one really mean m-f with a deadly weapon, what would YOU do?

Yeah. Me too,
+2 # tpmco 2013-01-21 22:26
Okay, maddave, I agree and even like most of your comments, but the what would you do question you pose is a little dramatic, don't you think.

Taking your question seriously, however, there's no question in my mind what I would do. I mean, like if I was a "real" cop. That real mean m-f would be spending at least a night in my county-hotel.
+24 # phrixus 2013-01-21 17:40
This shouldn't surprise anyone. Arresting murderers, rapists and other violent criminals is DANGEROUS. What's the worst a pothead will do in the back of a squad car? Probably fall asleep and drool on the upholstery. Why screw around with violent offenders when you can pad your arrest numbers by picking up a few guys whom may have eaten too much ice cream?
+29 # mrbadexample 2013-01-21 17:44
The continued criminalization of pot has almost everything to do with powerful forces that need lots of incarcerated people to keep their jobs--a fact that has been true since 'Reefer Madness' and Harry Ainslinger, who had to find work for all his federal agents after Prohibition was repealed. The prison industrial complex loves pot felons, who are safe and easy prisoners to supervise, and decriminalizati on would mean a lowered prison population. It's no accident that California's prison guard union contributed heavily to anti-legalizati on campaigns. And someone needs to replace all those violent felons, since many of our privatized prisons have 'performance goals'--they get a fixed number of prisoners a year on contract.

When we've come to the point where high incarceration is the best government employment plan we have left, it's time to declare ourselves a banana republic.
+2 # Depressionborn 2013-01-23 17:06
The more laws and restrictions there are, the poorer people become.
– Lao-Tzu
+16 # KrazyFromPolitics 2013-01-21 17:45
Too many people making too much money to decriminalize it any time soon...growers, cartels, dealers, prison-industri al complex, big pharma, banks who launder the money, politicians. I bet others could add many more.
+21 # Anarchist 23 2013-01-21 18:05
'Prohibition is an awful flop
We like it.
It can't stop what it's meant to stop
We like it.
It's filled our land with vice and crime
It's left a trail of graft and slime
It don't prohibit worth a dime
Nevertheless, we're for it.'

Anonymous rhyme written during 1930's
+16 # brux 2013-01-21 18:14
That's insane ... maybe it's our government that needs a prescription for marijuana.
+15 # noitall 2013-01-21 18:42
Someone with power must stand to lose a lot of money if this prohibition is ended. Follow the money, now who could it be?
+27 # karen12643 2013-01-21 18:43
We voted to legalize Marijuana in Colorado to help close down private prisons, to keep young people from ruining their lives for a small amount, and most of all for the taxation possibilities of towns and counties getting the revenue rather than drug lords getting rich and killing people. The whole country should do the same. Every town can decide if they want it sold in their "neighborhood"
+20 # GyraSol 2013-01-21 19:07
The essential fallacy in "Decriminalizat ion" is that it depends on the "Magic Ounce". If it's OK to possess and ounce without penalty or just a summary ticket, like a traffic fine, then where did it come from if growing it, transporting it or selling it is illegal?
Only legalization makes sense.
In places where marijuana has been legalized, consumption has gone down after an initial spike. Additionally, medical uses of MJ are myriad and highly effective with no side effects as there are with synthetic THC. Just Legalize It!
+3 # tpmco 2013-01-21 22:19
In a commercial offering, I would support regulation of marijuana about the same as spinach.

The guy who wrote this article is a right-wing plant.
+14 # She Cee 2013-01-21 22:22
MARIJUANA arrests exceed those for violent crime.

OMG. That is disgraceful. Someone's life is ruined because he or she is doing something that harms no one. Someone can get drunk and be charged with a DUI and get off with a slap on the hand. Or that person might kill someone and that person gets off with a relatively short sentence but a young person who has never done anything to harm anyone gets caught with a small amount of marijuana and can be thrown into a prison with violent offenders who can ruin his or her life.

The laws and Law enforcement in this country are crazy and corrupt. It's sickening.
+9 # Diareo Knabo 2013-01-22 03:01
Good for you, NanFan! Right on the mark! The trouble with pot is NOT the cannabis proper! It is as you say the CRIMINAL BLACK MARKET aspect that posees the real problem. remaining illegal, no business venture (legal) could start up a marihuana product that is tightly quality controlled and free from unwanted foreign toxins.

Like tobacco and for alcohol, there are ALREADY educational campaigns as an attempt to educate the public at large, why on Earth this would not work for cannabis is well beyond me! OF COURSE it would work!

The ONLY way to get the violent criminal drug lords 'king pins' etc. and the criminal element in general out of the marihuana market is to do like what happened during the late '30s, LEGALISE IT! (Uh... does anyone out there remember Prohibition, where ALCOHOL was made illegal?


+4 # charlemaign 2013-01-22 03:14
Pot is an ingredient of holy water in the time of Jesus and before as seen in the ingredients to holy water.
Jesus used holy water to cure people with.
God made herb and all herb is good.
There is a hell.
God is a vengeful god.
Those involved in making herb illegal should be worried about going to hell and burning forever.
Number one thing to feed and house everyone in the world would be to legalize herb (4x the fiber)
Number one thing to save our ancient forests is to legalize herb (same reason)
Number one way to remove carbon from the atmosphere (same reason plus is best plant for bio-fuel)
+2 # corals33 2013-01-22 04:21
Marijuana,imper ialism and racism are inextricably linked more so than any other so-called illegal narcotic and all three must be addressed as one before any progress can truthfully be made.The economics of capitalism, the demonizing of "foreigners or other people",and the need to dictate to other nations what they must or must not do are all bound up with this "so-called problem".Seems to me there is too much at stake for this to have any kind of honorable solution.
+8 # FlyingTooLow 2013-01-22 08:57
Law enforcement needs to re-direct its focus on those that are REAL crimes.

I was in Federal Prison for 5 years for a marijuana offense. No, it was not for simple possession. I was arrested aboard a Lockheed PV2 in Marianna, Florida...charg ed and convicted for conspiracy to import and distribute 12,000 pounds of marijuana.

As those 5 years rolled by, what I did see were armed bank robbers, coming and going...while I still sat there for marijuana. Most of the bank robbers only spent 17 to 24 months. But, I and my fellow 'drug offenders,'...w e stayed for YEARS.

I wrote about the escapades that led to my incarceration.
I admit, I had a great time.
No one was injured, no one was killed, firearms were not involved...ther e were no victims.

We were Americans...doi ng what Americans do free.

My book: Shoulda Robbed a Bank
I think you may enjoy it...some lies included.
+1 # Lowflyin Lolana 2013-01-24 18:37
Interesting story. Sad. Thanks for the tip.
+4 # bobby t. 2013-01-22 11:02
Didn't Joseph Kennedy SR. smuggle whiskey into America and make his first fortune that way?
It is the payoffs that keep the laws on the books. Hard to compete with those payoffs. Milo loves payoffs.
+3 # NVR 2013-01-22 12:32
Until the laws are changed to decriminalize possession of personal use of marijuana, the cops are the bad guys!
+4 # jackacole 2013-01-22 14:09
Police love marijuana arrests. They are the “low-hanging fruit” easily picked, which greatly boost the clearance rate for crimes in their jurisdictions. No crime exists until after a drug arrest has been made—then voila, the case is instantly solved with that arrest—zero unsolved crimes.

Let’s go back to the crime data of 2008, which gives the police time to solve major crimes that occurred that year. The 2008 US unsolved case rates (murder 36%, rape 60%, robbery 73% Burglary 88%) ended with an unsolved rate for all index crimes of 81% but when the zero rate for unsolved drug crimes are added the total unsolved cases drops to 72%.

Drug violations are consensual crimes; both sides, the user and the seller, get something they want from the transaction, and neither is going to tell on the other.

Police should be protecting people from the violent crimes of other people, not protecting every adult human being from his-or herself by saying what they can put in their own bodies. It is only when we are assigned the job of enforcing consensual crime violations that police corruption becomes rampant.

If you want to change this, join, an organization of 100,000+ police, judges, prosecutors, and supporters in 120 countries, who believe a system of legalized regulation of drugs is more efficient and ethical that a system of prohibition. It is also the only way to remove drugs from the control of criminals and end the violence.

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