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New FBI Report Shows Drug Arrests Are Still Increasing

September 25, 2017
Despite the continuing expansion of legal cannabis in states around the country, the federal Drug War continues to rage on.
According to the FBI’s latest Uniform Crime Report released today, law enforcement agencies in the country made more than 1.57 million arrests for drug law violations in 2016, a 5.63% increase over previous years.

The data indicates that nationwide one drug arrest is made every 20 seconds, while there are three times more arrests for those types of crimes than for all violent crimes combined.


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Unlike previous years, the FBI has not yet made data public on arrests for specific drugs, like cannabis, or for specific offenses such as drug possession or drug sales.

For example, in 2015, 84% of all drug arrests were for simple low-level drug possession, with 43% of all drug arrests were for cannabis law violations… a total of 643,121 arrests. 574,641 of those arrests were for simple cannabis possession.


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“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. “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.

Discriminatory enforcement of drug laws continues to be an issue. African Americans comprise 13% of the US population and consume drugs at similar rates as other demographic groups. However, African Americans comprise 29% of those arrested for drug law violations, and 35% of those incarcerated in state prison for drug possession.


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According to the NAACP, the imprisonment rate of African Americans for drug charges is almost six times that of whites.

Just a few weeks ago, Leafly reported that cannabis consumption by US teenagers fell in 2016 to a new 20 year low.


Federal Gov’t: Teen Cannabis Use Rate Drops to 20-Year Low

Gage Peake's Bio Image

Gage Peake

Gage Peake is a former staff writer for Leafly, where he specialized in data journalism, sports, and breaking news coverage. He's a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's College of Journalism and Mass Communications.

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