by Justin Gardner
New data from the FBI show that cannabis remains the primary target of the U.S. war on drugs, with someone getting arrested for cannabis possession every 49 seconds in 2015.
643,000 Americans were put in handcuffs because of a plant, despite the fact that it’s been legalized recreationally in four states and medicinally in 25 states. These arrests make up a shocking 43 percent of all drug arrests and 5.9 percent of total arrests.
The figures actually represent an ongoing decline in cannabis arrests since 2007, but the trend is not keeping up with the enormous shift in public opinion in favor of cannabis legalization. A growing majority realize that it’s wrong to lock people in cages for possession of a medicinal plant that humans have used for thousands of years.
Yet the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the American police state continue to prey on the populace, using cannabis as an excuse to seize billions in assets and wreck the lives of innocent people.
Simple possession of any amount accounted for 89 percent of cannabis arrests, which is the same percentage as the 2007 peak. So even though the total number of arrests have dropped, agents of the State are still going after people with a joint or a bit of weed in their pocket.
“While the numbers are thankfully dropping over time, it’s alarming and simply unacceptable that someone is harassed by the police just for marijuana every 49 seconds in this country,” said Tom Angell of the reform group Marijuana Majority. “Polls now consistently show that a growing majority of Americans supports full legalization, and it’s about time more politicians and law enforcement caught up.”
Even though many places have reduced penalties for cannabis “offenses,” it still can have devastating impacts on lives. Besides spending time in jail, where death becomes an increased likelihood, those who escape from the cage are often stuck with a permanent black mark.
According to a report by the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA):
“Those arrested are saddled with a criminal conviction that can make it difficult or impossible to vote, obtain educational loans, get a job, maintain a professional license, secure housing, or even adopt a child. A misdemeanor marijuana conviction can lead to: a bar on adopting a child in 38 states; revocation of a professional license in 20 states; denial of federal financial aid for a year or more in 28 states; suspension of one’s driver’s license for six months in 21 states and D.C.; and a ban from public housing for three years in 46 states.”
Thankfully, some states are taking steps to end these draconian policies. Proposed legislation in New Jersey would even “expunge records for individuals previously convicted of certain marijuana-related ‘crimes.’
The DPA report also describes the financial burden to taxpayers for enforcing the war on weed, with $3.6 billion spent every year on enforcing cannabis possession laws. While the police state wastes these billions on prohibition of a medicinal plant, it steals billions in cash and assets on the basis of cannabis possession in a practice known as “policing for profit.”
Despite the overwhelming public opinion in favor of legalization, and nine states poised to join the list of those that have legalized the recreational and/or medicinal use of cannabis, the police state cannot let go of its war on people. The war is simply too profitable and justifies the existence of predatory agencies such as the DEA.
643,000 people were arrested last year for cannabis, which is less than the year before, but until that number reaches zero we will continue the battle for freedom and access to a miraculous medicinal plant.
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