Most Exhaustive Set of Marijuana Arrest Data Ever Shows No Relation Between Arrests and Use Rates; Penalty Structure Boosts Illicit Market
November 5, 2009
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The most exhaustive collection of data ever on U.S. marijuana arrests, penalties and related information, released today, finds no relationship between marijuana arrest and use rates, while penalty structures act as a price support mechanism that boosts the illegal market. Assembled by Jon Gettman, Adjunct Assistant Professor in Criminal Justice at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Virginia, the new report finds:
· Marijuana arrests have nearly doubled since 1991, while levels of marijuana use remained fundamentally unchanged.
· Penalties that escalate for increased amounts of marijuana encourage consumers to make multiple small purchases, acting as a price support for the illicit market.
· Florida has the nation’s harshest marijuana penalties, while the District of Columbia has the highest arrest rate for marijuana offenses.
· Although the rate of marijuana use is only about 25 percent higher for African-Americans than for whites, blacks are three times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession as whites.
“These figures paint a devastating portrait of a failed policy that burns through tax dollars while doing nothing but harm,” said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C. “Most Americans agree that marijuana prohibition doesn’t work, even if most politicians aren’t yet ready to publicly agree with their constituents.”
Gettman’s summary report, “Marijuana Arrests in the United States (2007),” is available at http://www.drugscience.org/Archive/bcr7/bcr7_index.html. The full Marijuana Policy Almanac, including state rankings and individual reports for all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, is at http://www.drugscience.org/States/US/US_home.htm.