A new report by the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) found that federal arrests for cannabis have continued their downward trend, Marijuana Moment reports. Although the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) made 2,576 cannabis arrests during fiscal year 2020, these types of arrests have dropped by an average of 11% each year since 2010, when the DEA made 8,215 such detentions.
The coronavirus pandemic was cited as one cause for the decline, during which there was an 81% drop in federal arrests and a 77% drop in cases charged from March to April 2020, the report says. Furthermore, advocates say the relaxing of DOJ pressure at the state level for simple cannabis possession or use — despite the DOJ having repealed the Cole Memo, which offered protections to state adult-use cannabis programs — has contributed to the decline in federal cannabis arrests.
The DOJ report found that 16% of all arrests in the U.S. were drug-related with the majority for methamphetamine, powder cocaine, and heroin; however, for 47% of those incarcerated, a drug offense was their most serious crime.
Another study from the federal U.S. Sentencing Commission (USCC) found federal cannabis arrests continued to drop in 2021, according to the report. That study found that fewer than 1,000 people were arrested for cannabis trafficking in 2021, down from 1,118 in 2020.
The trends come at a time when Attorney General Merrick Garland has expressed reluctance to use federal funds to crack down on cannabis use. Just last week, the DOJ recommended the Supreme Court not take up a case involving cannabis, asking the court to defer to Congressional action on the topic.
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