The latest Justice Department
data show that federal drug prosecutions have been declining for the past
five years, Syracuse University's Transactional Records Analysis Clearinghouse
this week. Based on the most recent available figures, federal
prosecutors filed 1,965 drug cases in January, down 8.7% from the previous
month, 8.1% from the previous year, and 39.3% from January 2001.
If US Magistrate Courts, which typically handle federal drug misdemeanors,
are included, the five-year decline is a smaller 28.8%.
TRAC did not attempt to identify
reasons for the decline. Federal white collar crime prosecutions
are also down over the five-year period, with a 34.5% decline, and felony
immigration prosecutions also dropped by 2.7%. (On immigration prosecutions,
however, the number of cases tried in US Magistrate Courts rose by 102%.)
Federal firearms prosecutions, on the other hand, increased by 32.5% over
the last five years.
The 1,965 federal drug cases
filed in January accounted for more cases than weapons and white collar
crime combined. There were 761 federal weapons cases filed in January
and 517 white collar crime cases. Federal prosecutors also initiated
more than 3,000 immigration-related cases, but most of them will be handled
by US magistrates.
As befits its role as the
federal government's lead drug-fighting agency, the Drug Enforcement Administration
(DEA) accounted for 57% of all new prosecutions. Referrals from state
and local law enforcement came in second at 12%, followed by the Department
of Homeland Security (11%), the FBI (7%), and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco
and Firearms (5%).
Federal drug law prosecutions
vary by region, but the most recent figures show some surprises.
The most federal drug prosecutions per capita in January occurred in the
Northern District of West Virginia, with 37 per 100,000 population.
An unsurprising second was the Western District of Texas with 26 per 100,000.
The rest of the top ten in rank order are the Northern District of Mississippi,
the Eastern District of Oklahoma, the Eastern District of Tennessee, Wyoming,
South Dakota, Montana, the Eastern District of Missouri, and the Southern
District of Alabama. Except for Alabama and its sea coast and Texas
and the Mexican border, all of the top ten are rural areas of the country
not normally associated with massive drug problems. Except for Western
Texas, where smuggling remains a constant, only West Virginia was in the
top ten five years ago, coming in at number ten.
9. Medical Marijuana:
South Dakota Initiative Makes the November Ballot
South Dakota electoral officials
Wednesday certified that a petition drive to place a medical marijuana
initiative on the November ballot submitted enough signatures to qualify.
Sponsored by South Dakotans
for Medical Marijuana, the initiative, if successful, would make South
Dakota the 12th state to pass a medical marijuana law, and the first in
The group handed in more
than 24,000 signatures on May 2. But because it had to use its existing
funds to pay for signature gathering, the group is now broke and asking
According to organizers,
The South Dakota legislature
has refused to act on medical marijuana bills in recent years. Similarly,
case of Matthew Ducheneaux, a paraplegic Lakota who used marijuana
to ease muscle spasms, the South Dakota courts passed on the opportunity
to allow the use of a medical necessity defense. Now, the voters
will have a chance to have their say.
-- END --
Protect seriously ill patients
-- and their caregivers -- who possess and cultivate limited amounts of
marijuana with their doctors' approval from arrest and prosecution by state
Create registry identification
cards, so that law enforcement officials will be able to easily tell who
is a qualified patient and who is not, and establish penalties for false
statements and fraudulent ID cards;
Protect doctors from being punished
for advising their patients that -- in their sincere professional judgment
-- the benefits of the medical use of marijuana for the patient would exceed
Allow patients and their caregivers
who are arrested to raise a medical defense in court; and
Prohibit the public use of marijuana
and driving under the influence of marijuana, among other restrictions.
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