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October 7, 1997
Marijuana Arrests For 1996 Most Ever!
FBI Data Confirm Clinton's Marijuana War To Be Toughest In Nation's History
Nearly 642,000 total marijuana
arrests* were made by state and local law enforcement during 1996, according to
the latest edition of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Uniform Crime Report.
This figure is an 80 percent increase since 1990 and pushes the total number of
marijuana arrests under the Clinton administration to approximately 2.1 million. The
1996 yearly arrest total for marijuana violations is the highest ever recorded by the FBI.
Of the 642,000 arrests made for marijuana in 1996, approximately 85 percent (545,700) were for simple "possession." The remaining 15 percent (96,300 arrests) were for "sale/manufacture," a category that includes all cultivation offenses -- even those where the marijuana was being grown for personal or medical use.
"This data confirms what The NORML Foundation has been maintaining all along," states Executive Director Allen St. Pierre. "Despite criticism that this present administration is soft on drugs, the FBI data clearly demonstrates that Clinton's war on marijuana smokers is the toughest ever waged in our nation's history. These new FBI statistics indicate that one marijuana user is arrested every 49 seconds in America."
Paul Armentano, Director of Publications for The NORML Foundation, called the record high number of arrests ironic when compared to increasing levels of adolescent marijuana use. "The fact that adolescent use rates for marijuana are rising at the same time that law enforcement is arresting record numbers of users demonstrates that marijuana prohibition is not an effective deterrent to marijuana consumption. Clinton hasn't abandoned the drug war; the drug war simply isn't working."
St. Pierre noted that marijuana arrests constituted 43 percent of all illicit drug arrests in 1996. "This is clearly a waste of precious law enforcement resources," he said. "Marijuana prohibition costs American taxpayers between $7.5 and $10 billion annually in enforcement alone."
Statistics gathered from the FBI also demonstrate that ethnic minorities are over-represented among those arrested for marijuana offenses. Racial breakdowns provided by the FBI concluded that nonwhites comprise 40 percent of marijuana arrests, despite constituting only 20 percent of all marijuana users in the United States.
Since 1970 law enforcement has arrested approximately 10.8 million Americans on marijuana charges, the data indicated.
For more information on marijuana arrests, please contact Allen St. Pierre or Paul Armentano of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751.
*No arrest data for the District of Columbia, Florida, and Vermont law enforcement agencies were available to the FBI for 1996. Therefore, arrest totals for these states were estimated by the FBI for inclusion in the overall total.
MORE THAN 10 MILLION MARIJUANA ARRESTS SINCE 1965 . . . ANOTHER EVERY 49 SECONDS!