Data released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation Monday revealed that despite an increase in public support for legalizing marijuana, there was a pot-related arrest every 42 seconds in 2012.
Police arrested about the same number of people on pot-related charges in 2012 as in 2011 - including arrests for distribution.
Advocacy groups for marijuana legalization say police should be focused on arresting committers of violent crime instead of marijuana users.
Dan Riffle, Marijuana Policy Project federal policies director and former prosecuting attorney, said every minute arresting and prosecuting adults is time that could be spent solving “real crimes”.
“I believe it is irresponsible to squander our limited law enforcement resources on this disastrous public policy failure," Riffle said. "That is especially true when so many violent crimes remain unsolved.”
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition executive director Neill Franklin said the arrests are a huge loss of human potential, noting that murderers or robbers can obtain a student loan from the government, but convicted marijuana users cannot.
Franklin, a cop of 34 years, agreed with Riffle in that prosecuting marijuana users is a waste of time, and that investigators should rethink their priorities.