More People are Arrested for Simple Marijuana Possession than All Violent Crimes Combined
In the United States, more than 137,000 people sit in local jails awaiting trial or for someone to come bail them out of jail for simple marijuana possession charges. For decades, the war on drugs has shown an increase in arrests for marijuana possession, which now, far exceeds the number of those arrested for violent crimes. Recently released data from the American Civil Liberties and Human Rights Watch indicates that the 45-year war on drugs has been a failure.
Arrests for drug possession have risen from less than 200 per 100,000 citizens to over 400 per 100,000 citizens, according to NOLA. In the mid-2000s drug possession arrests were at an all-time high of over 500 per 100,000 people. Drug use in America, for those 12 and older, ass risen significantly since the early 1980s. A majority of the work local police departments do now, in 2016, is paperwork relating to drug possession-related incidents.
FBI data suggests that police are making arrests for drug possessions more frequently than any other type of crime. It further breaks down that roughly 1 in 9 arrests are for drug possession, which is the equivalent of 1.25-million annually.
Underground Drug Markets
The black market, as it is often referred to, is a matter of public health. Those working in the underground drug market are less likely to seek medical treatment or gainful employment because of their addiction. Unhealthy use practices, like sharing needles, have led to increased serious health conditions. Those with drug addiction issues are not seeking help.
Corey Ladd, arrested in 2011 for possessing ½ ounce of marijuana in New Orleans. Corey was not sentenced until 2013. He had two prior convictions of drug possession, where marijuana was not a factor. Corey was sentenced to 17 years in prison and carries the label in the judicial system as a “habitual offender”.
In 2016, New Orleans approved new legislation decriminalizing simple marijuana possession. Those possessing 14-grams or less are given a civil citation, which is the equivalent of a traffic ticket, in most cases. Essentially, police officers decide, at their own discretion if an additional violation has occurred or something warrants the arrest of the individual possessing the marijuana or not. If no other offense is in question, those offenders are likely to go on with their day.
Corey Ladd is in the process of appealing his sentence.
In response to Corey’s real-life story, Tess Borden said:
"Corey’s story is about the real waste of human lives, let alone taxpayer money, of arrest and incarceration for personal drug use. He could be making money and providing for his family."
Texas may be, perhaps, the worst state to obtain a marijuana charge in. It has 116 people currently serving life sentences for simple drug possessions. Seven of those possessed less than 4-grams. With two prior felonies, you qualify as a “habitual offender” in Texas and can be given a longer sentence because of it.
78-percent of those jailed in Texas for simple drug possession had less than a single gram on them at their time of arrest.
Controversy continues around the topic of simple marijuana possession arrests, ridiculous jail sentences and the ruining of people’s lives for a plant that is safer than alcohol.