In 2016 more people were arrested for marijuana possession than for all crimes the FBI classifies as violent, according to 2016 crime data released by the agency on Monday.
Marijuana possession arrests edged up slightly in 2016, a year in which voters in four states approved recreational marijuana initiatives and voters in three others approved medical marijuana measures.
Overall in 2016, roughly 1.5 million people were arrested for drug-related offenses, up slightly year-over-year. Advocates for a more public health-centered approach to drug use say numbers like these show the drug war never really went away.
“Criminalizing drug use has devastated families across the US, particularly in communities of color, and for no good reason,” said Maria McFarland Sánchez Moreno, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, in a statement. “Far from helping people who are struggling with addiction, the threat of arrest often keeps them from accessing health services and increases the risk of overdose or other harms.”
The question of what to do about drug use has become particularly urgent in recent years as deaths from opioid overdoses have skyrocketed. The Drug Policy Alliance points out that Portugal, where the personal possession and use of drugs was decriminalized in 2001, has one of the lowest drug overdose rates in western Europe.
All I can say is that I’ve been in Oregon for the last 6 weeks what with it’s legal marijuana and I just can’t tell you what a total hellhole it is here. There are some hippies and a lot of weed stores and, well, that’s about it. Basically it’s exactly like before except people go to the store to buy their marijuana and pay taxes on it instead of feeding a black market economy where who knows what conditions the plant was grown and who got hurt doing it. The horror of living here, I’ll tell you what. No wonder Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III is still determined to destroy this, although Senate Democrats seem to be working Trump to not crack down.