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Pot Arrests for Year 2008 Second Highest Total Ever Reported

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Police arrested 847,864 persons for marijuana violations in 2008, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's annual Uniform Crime Report, released today. The total marks a three percent decrease in marijuana arrests from 2007, when law enforcement arrested a record 872,721 Americans for cannabis-related violations, but still remains the second highest tally of annual arrests ever reported.

Marijuana arrests now comprise one-half (49.8 percent) of all drug arrests reported in the United States.

Of those charged with marijuana violations, approximately 89 percent, 754,224 Americans were charged with possession only. The remaining 93,640 individuals were charged with "sale/manufacture," a category that includes all cultivation offenses, even those where the marijuana was being grown for personal or medical use.

Marijuana arrests were highest in the Midwest and southern regions of the United States, and lowest in the west, despite this region possessing some of the nation's highest rates of cannabis use.

Commenting on the 2008 figures, NORML Director Allen St. Pierre said:

Federal statistics released just last week indicate that larger percentages of Americans are using cannabis at the same time that police are arresting a near-record number of Americans for pot-related offenses. Present enforcement policies are costing American taxpayers tens of billions of dollars, ruining the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans, and having no impact on marijuana availability or marijuana use in this country. It is time to end this failed policy and replace prohibition with a policy of marijuana regulation, taxation, and education.

NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano, author of the book Marijuana Is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink? (Chelsea Green, 2009) added:

According to a just-released Rasmussen poll, a majority of American adults believe, correctly, that marijuana is less harmful than booze. The public has it right; the law has it wrong.


To read the FBI's 2008 Uniform Crime Report, please visit here.