National Marijuana Arrests Have Tripled Since 1991

While the national call to legalize marijuana—both medical and recreational—is higher than ever before (and includes more than half of American voters), you wouldn’t know it by looking at the issue from a law enforcement perspective. The number of marijuana arrests have more than doubled since 1991, and as a percentage of arrests, they have more than tripled.

As Christopher Ingraham pointed out in a recent Washington Post article, this makes for a somewhat confused climate as far as the status of marijuana. On one hand the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy is trending toward a more tolerant attitude in handling drug use. (On the ONRCP’s website you can read about its “collaborative, balanced and science-based approach.”) On the other hand, law enforcement seems to have favored a different, if not altogether opposite approach. Ingraham’s article explains how, although total arrests for any charges have gone down since 1991, the number of marijuana related arrests have somehow doubled—hence the percentage of marijuana arrests tripling.

This is counterintuitive for the news-following legalization enthusiast. These past 10 years have marked some serious victories for the industry, like California’s passing of proposition 215 in 1996, allowing the cultivation of marijuana for medical purposes; or the legalization of recreational use in Colorado and Washington 2012; or the House of Representative’s recent passing of the Heck Amendment, which (if passed by the Senate) will ban the Treasury from spending federal money to penalize banks for providing service to marijuana related businesses.

– Read the entire article at AlterNet.