Marijuana Arrests on the Decline but Still Outnumber Violent Crime Arrests, According to FBI Data

According to the FBI’s 2019 report, police made 545,602 arrests for marijuana-related violations in 2019 — an 18% drop

The good news is that the total number of people arrested in the United States for marijuana-related crimes declined for the first time in four years, according to data released last week by the FBI. The bad news? That number is still higher than those arrested for all violent crimes.

According to the FBI’s 2019 report, police made 545,602 arrests for marijuana-related violations in 2019 — an 18% drop — and 495,871 arrests for violent crimes. About 92%, or 500,395, of the marijuana-related arrests were for possession.

The drop-off in marijuana crimes is attributed to marijuana legalization efforts across the nation. Since 2012, 11 states and Washington, D.C. have legalized recreational use of marijuana, including Michigan in 2018.

Still, marijuana activists say the number of pot-related crimes is still too high.

"Police across America make a marijuana-related arrest every 58 seconds," NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri said in a statement. "At a time when the overwhelming majority of Americans want cannabis to be legal and regulated, it is an outrage that many police departments across the country continue to waste tax dollars and limited law enforcement resources on arresting otherwise law-abiding citizens for simple marijuana possession."

Marijuana arrests peaked about a decade ago, with more than 800,000 arrests.

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