Weed Arrests at 20-Year Low; People Still Pinched One per Minute

Weed is still complicated and illegal, even when its legal.

Marijuana is as mainstream as it’s ever been. But even though weed-related arrests hit a more than two-decade-low point in 2015, according to recently published data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the weed-arrests still make up nearly half of all drug arrests, with someone getting pinched by law enforcement roughly every 49 seconds. 

Huffington Post reports on the FBI data:

“Authorities in the U.S. made 643,000 arrests for marijuana-related charges in 2015. . . Charges related to the drug accounted for 5.9 percent of all arrests, and about 43.2 percent of all drug arrests. . . The number of marijuana arrests has been generally decreasing since peaking in 2007. That year, police made 872,720 total arrests related to the drug, including 775,137 for possession.”

Weed is legal in some states, but very much illegal in others. This fragmented legislation varies even from county-to-county in states such as Colorado and California, where respectively, weed has been legal since 2012; and in November of this year, voters will decide on a recreational legalization initiative.

Perhaps what gets glossed over in most media reports is that getting arrested for selling weed can lead to repercussions far more serious than one might think

Image via Flickr

Ellen Komp, deputy director of California NORML, previously told KINDLAND, that the "ancillary issues around being quasi-legal” are some of the most problematic dilemmas facing contemporary cannabis users: “Loss of employment rights, parental rights, and housing rights.” 

According to Leah Heise, CEO of Women Grow, an organization that helps women navigate the legal weed business world, penalties for mothers arrested on cannabis-related charges can be especially severe:

"Even in states where cannabis use is legal––women still face losing their children because child welfare laws have not caught up with legalization,” Heise previously told KINDLAND.

“This inconsistent application of cannabis policy across the board, generates burdensome costs to the Government prosecuting these cases, the social service system, and the mothers from whom the children are taken,” says Heise.

A February 2016 report from the Drug Policy Alliance backs up Komp and Heise's claims and has weed-related-arrests topping those of "all violent crimes combined."

More than money will be saved if weed ever becomes fully and actually legal.