Even though residents of two states voted to legalize marijuana in 2012, data indicated that police arrested nearly the same amount of people for marijuana-related offenses last year as the year before.
Per data from the FBI Uniform Crime Report for 2012, a total of 749,825 people were arrested for marijuana within the category of “drug abuse violations” that were reported to the FBI. More than 658,000 of those were arrested for possession, according to a post on The Weed Blog.
The 749,825 arrest total is similar to the 2011 number, which was 757,969. Although the decline was limited, the total is still down from 2010’s 853,838 and 858,408 in 2009. Analysis reportedly indicates that the decline from 2010 to 2011 could be attributed largely to the decriminalization of marijuana possession in California.
Last month, USNews.com reported that police made one marijuana arrest every 42 seconds in 2012. Data showed that there were an estimated 1,552,432 arrests for drug-related crimes in 2012 and marijuana offenses accounted for 48.3 percent of all drug arrests, a total that was slightly down from the 49.5 percent a year earlier.
Advocacy groups that back campaigns to legalize or decriminalize marijuana said police should prioritize solving violent crimes over arresting marijuana users.
“As a former prosecuting attorney myself, I believe it is irresponsible to squander our limited law enforcement resources on this disastrous public policy failure,” Dan Riffle, Marijuana Policy Project federal policies director, had said in a statement. “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.”