Cannabis Law Prof Blog

Editor: Franklin G. Snyder
Texas A&M University
School of Law

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Marijuana arrests increase despite legalization


There was a marijuana bust roughly every 48 seconds in 2017, according to data from the FBI Uniform Crime Report (UCR).

Tom Agnell, a cannabis movement veteran, analyzed the report and found that marijuana arrests continue to rise. He explains in Forbes that these arrests are due to continued enforcement on possession of cannabis. The UCR shows arrests for manufacturing and selling decreased over five thousand arrests in 2017. Law enforcement's focus on possession is apparent. Agnell's cannabis industry sources say this is a waste of resources: 

"At a time when more than 100 deaths per day are caused by opioid overdoses, it is foolish to focus our limited law enforcement resources on a drug that has caused literally zero," Don Murphy, federal policies director for the Marijuana Policy Project said in an interview.

"Actions by law enforcement run counter to both public support and basic morality," added NORML Political Director Justin Strekal. "In a day and age where twenty percent of the population lives in states which have legalized and nearly every state has some legal protections for medical cannabis or its extract, the time for lawmakers to end this senseless and cruel prohibition that ruins lives." 

Overall, marijuana arrests made up 40.4% of the nation's 1,632,921 drug arrests in 2017.

Mr. Agnell had similar findings from the 2016 UCR, with an increase in across-the-board drug arrests and marijuana specific arrests. The increase in marijuana arrests from 2015 to 2016 was under a cannabis tolerant Obama administration. With the current administration's opposition to cannabis reform, despite the increasing push to decriminalize on the Federal level, Agnell's data suggests this trend will continue. 

--Manda Mosley Maier

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