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Drug Arrests Top 1.6 Million Last Year Despite Small Drop

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #650)
Drug War Issues

US law enforcement agencies arrested 1,663,582 on drug charges last year, according to the FBI's annual Uniform Crime Report. That represents a slight decrease from the previous year.

Of those 1.6 million arrests, 858,408 were for marijuana offenses. Marijuana arrests thus accounted for 51.6% of all drug arrests, making 2009 the first year pot busts accounted for more than half of all drug arrests.

Of the marijuana arrests, 758,593 were for pot possession, while 99,815 were for sales or manufacturing. Thus, more than 88% of all marijuana arrests were for possession and more than 45% of all drug arrests were for pot possession.

Overall, drug possession arrests accounted for more than 81% of all drug arrests. Fewer than one in five drug arrests were for drug trafficking or manufacture.

While marijuana possession accounted for 45% of all drug arrests, possession of heroin or cocaine accounted for only 17.7% of all drug arrests, "other dangerous non-narcotic drugs" 14.6%, and "synthetic or manufactured drugs" 3.7%.

The more than 1.6 million people arrested on drug charges last year was nearly three times the number arrested for violent offenses (581,765). More people were arrested on drug charges than any other single offense, including drunk driving (1.44 million), larceny (1.33 million), or non-aggravated assaults (1.31 million).

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


JayFields (not verified)

Thanks Kerli, You just came out in time with your 'Marijuana use up sharply' news release to let everyone know that what your saying amounts to surrender. How peculiar these announcement always come out just before abolitionists are about to make headway at removing cannabis prohibition. Like,  wised up Californians about to pass Prop 19 to throw out 73 years of the counter productive failure called cannabis prohibition. You want more money to arrest more people & that's already proving not to make one bit of a difference. The Drug Czar has been dethroned. He doesn't even have a Cabinet level position at the White House any longer. So, Cannabis prohibition is now openly seen as nothing but a way for prohibitionists to make ever more money, seize more power & property, and crush more civil rights.  It's the prohibitionists who are addicted, to the drug wars. Cannabis prohibition itself is far more destructive to our society than cannabis ever could be. Like I said, Thanks Kerli, that's the Drug Czar to all you slavish followers who are bent on falling into the ditch with him.  

Sun, 09/19/2010 - 3:17pm Permalink
Tony Aroma (not verified)

Looks like the drug warriors are indeed making progress, but they've still got a long way to go.  They're probably going to have to pass the 100 million drug arrests per year mark to really make a difference.  No worries.  At the rate they're going, they should be arresting 100 million drug users per year by 2030.  Hope I'm around long enough to see what a totally drug-free society is like.

Sun, 09/19/2010 - 4:44pm Permalink
undrgrndgirl (not verified)

In reply to by Tony Aroma (not verified)

what a joke...drug free means NO caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, antibiotics, antidepressants, antihypertensives, analgesics, cough syrup, antihistamines, chemotherapy, etc, etc, etc...i'm sure you get my drift...

Thu, 09/23/2010 - 10:18pm Permalink
tempname_41876 (not verified)

This is why we need to send money to pass Prop 19. My wife and I are in Texas and we sent 25.00 to NORMAL in Cal.

Please send whatever you can. Peace


Sun, 09/19/2010 - 5:24pm Permalink
sicntired (not verified)

I get Kerli is the drug czar.I don't get where there's an increase in anything except Mexican drug war violence.MJ is over 50% of drug arrests,1st year for that.I don't think anyone is doing anything but decrying that fact.88% of MJ arrests were for possession and45% of ALL DRUG ARRESTS were for pot possession.The article is plainly pro drug decriminalization and is the state of California,legalisation.One of us missed the point here and if it's me,I apologise in advance.It all just sounds like pro reform to me.

Tue, 09/21/2010 - 6:04pm Permalink
undrgrndgirl (not verified)

In reply to by sicntired (not verified), in 1980 cannabis arrests were 70% of all drug arrests see, you have to scroll down a bit, but there's a good table of drug arrest numbers.

it's not pro reform if you're not a reformer...for some, the idea that more and more cannabis users are getting busted is a GOOD thing...if you're a reformer you see this as a waste of time and $$.

Thu, 09/23/2010 - 10:15pm Permalink
undrgrndgirl (not verified)

arrests for trafficking were on trumped up charges for someone holding more than a very small quantity? i know in oklahoma if you're holding two joints you can be charged with trafficking because there are effectively two containers or that the quantity has been divided for sale...

Thu, 09/23/2010 - 10:05pm Permalink
Jack (not verified)



    Hemp is still illegal in the USA.  Arguably, hemp is a viable solution for all our economic, environmental

difficulties.  Do not underestimate the value and uses of this prolific plant.  Fuel, food, fjber and more.  Plastics can be made from hemp.  Wall board, ethanol, clothes, dynamite etc. etc.and 20,000 other products can be made from Hemp.

  In a sense the Drug War is a smoke screen for a truly Free Market.  None of us shall be free til then,

Fri, 09/24/2010 - 11:35am Permalink

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