Elvert Barnes

FBI Data Shows Cannabis Arrests Are Increasing

New FBI data shows that cannabis arrests in the U.S. are on the rise despite increasing trends of legalization and/or decriminalization, Tom Angell reports for Forbes.

The FBI logged 653,249 cannabis possession arrests in 2016. In 2017, that number rose to 659,700 — that’s about one cannabis possession arrest every 48 seconds. However, while arrest rates for cannabis possession have increased, they actually decreased for the illegal cultivation or distribution of the plant.

“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, via Forbes

In 2016, four states (including California, the country’s most populous state) voted to legalize adult-use cannabis — which makes the heightened arrest rates for possession extra concerning.

Meanwhile, more and more Americans lean in favor of federally legalizing cannabis, with the latest poll data suggesting that 60 percent of voters support cannabis law reforms. In fact, cannabis legalization as an issue was more popular with voters than either presidential candidate during the 2016 elections.

Recently, Reps. David Joyce (R-Ohio) and Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) said they expect the bill that will ultimately legalize cannabis nationwide will be introduced in Congress next year.

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