This policy change seems to be a tacit admission that the war on marijuana is a war not worth fighting. In fact, a recently released report from the Federal Bureau of Investigation suggests that marijuana arrests in recent years have been so numerous as to divert law enforcement time and resources away from solving more serious and violent crimes.
According to the FBI's 2012 Uniform Crime Report, there were about 750,000 marijuana-related arrests in the U.S. last year; which amounts to an arrest every 48 seconds. A closer analysis of those numbers reveals that seven out of every eight marijuana arrests were for possession.
Those statistics alone would be enough evidence for many to say that law enforcement resources were being wasted on a drug that many consider to be safer than alcohol. But additional data in the FBI's report shows that marijuana arrests outpaced arrests for far more serious offenses.
According to the report, there were 658,231 arrests in 2012 related to marijuana possession. By comparison, a total of 521,196 people were arrested on the following charges:
- Aggravated assault
- Forcible rape
- Non-negligent manslaughter
More people were arrested for marijuana possession, which is a non-violent crime, than were arrested for five types of violent crime combined. In response to the report, many policymakers expressed outrage and disappointment.
The current director of a group call the Marijuana Policy Project noted that "As a former prosecuting attorney myself, I believe it is irresponsible to squander our limited law enforcement resources on this disastrous public policy failure. That is especially true when so many violent crimes remain unsolved. Every second spent arresting and prosecuting adults for marijuana is time that could have been spent preventing and solving real crimes."
Hopefully, the FBI's Uniform Crime Report will strengthen the resolve of law enforcement agencies and prosecutors to stop focusing on non-violent drug offenses in favor of more serious crimes.
Source: MintPress News, "FBI Reports Marijuana Arrests Are At Near-Record Levels," Katie Rucke, Sept. 18, 2013