marijuana arrests

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Colorado: Since Marijuana was Legalized, Arrests Fell For White Kids But Rose For Black Kids

smoking a joint.jpg

By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A new report by the Colorado Department of Safety shows that black kids are more likely to be arrested since marijuana was legalized, while white kids are less likely to face arrest.

Between 2012, the last year pot was illegal in Colorado, and 2014, the first year of legal pot sales, the marijuana arrest rate for white kids age 10 to 17 fell by 9 percent. Black kids of the same age saw a 52 percent increase in arrests. Arrests rose by 22 percent for Hispanic kids.

A 2013 survey conducted by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment determined that black and Hispanic kids are slightly more likely to use marijuana than white kids. But the disparities in arrests are so huge that the differences in use rates don't explain the full difference in arrest rates: although black students are 1.5 times as likely to use pot, they're 2.2 times as likely to be arrested for the drug.

Colorado voters legalized marijuana for adults 21 and over in 2012. While pot remained illegal for anyone under 21, it was expected that law enforcement officers would spend less time enforcing marijuana laws in general, but enforcement varies at the local level and on the basis of race, apparently.

U.S.: FBI Reports Marijuana Arrests Increased In 2014; First Increase Since 2009


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The annual number of arrests for marijuana offenses in the U.S. increased last year for the first time since 2009, according to the Uniform Crime Report released Monday by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

There were 700,993 marijuana arrests in the U.S. in 2014, according to a new report from the FBI. That's one every 45 seconds.

Marijuana arrests comprised 44.9 percent of all drug arrests, and drug crimes are the largest category of offenses people were arrested for, according to the FBI. Fully 88.4 percent of marijuana arrests were for possession alone.

In comparison, there were 693,482 marijuana arrests in the U.S. in 2013. Data on marijuana arrests for years prior to 2013 is at

"It's unacceptable that police still put this many people in handcuffs for something that a growing majority of Americans think should be legal," said Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority. "A record number of states are expected to vote on legalizing marijuana next year, so we hope and expect to see these numbers significantly dropping soon.

"There’s just no good reason that so much police time and taxpayer money is spent punishing people for marijuana when so many murders, rapes and robberies go unsolved," Angell said.

New York: de Blasio Administration To Make Reforms To Non-Criminal Summons System


Common Sense Changes Will Make Summons System Easier to Navigate and More Transparent, and Will Allow City to Track and Address Racial Disparities

Changes Announced After Months of Negotiations with Community and Advocacy Groups

The Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice (MOCJ) on Tuesday announced plans to revise parts of the NYC Summons process. The announcement comes after advocates voiced key questions and concerns about Mayor de Blasio’s announcement last November that individuals would receive summonses instead of being arrested for low level marijuana possession in public view.

Advocates expressed concerns about the overburdened and complex summons court system, biased police practices, collateral consequences of summonses, and lack of data transparency. The plan announced on Tuesday includes a new NYPD summons form, website, and automated call-in system to help New Yorkers more easily navigate the NYC Summons court system.

In an October 2014 report, Race, Class & Marijuana Arrests in Mayor De Blasio’s Two New Yorks: The NYPD Marijuana Arrests Crusade Continues in 2014, the Marijuana Arrest Research Project and the Drug Policy Alliance noted the de Blasio Administration was on track to meet or surpass the Bloomberg 2013 marijuana arrests. Following the report’s release, the de Blasio Administration announced that New Yorkers found with small amounts of marijuana would be issued a court summons and immediately released.

U.S.: Study Says Florida Is Worst State For Marijuana Smokers


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

An informal study by has shown Florida is the worst state in the Union for marijuana smokers.

Reporter Evan Anderson became curious about cannabis citations around the United States after reading a MuckRock piece by Beryl Anderson on citation data from California marijuana arrests after decriminalization. Copying the language used by MuckRock user Dave Maass to get California's numbers, Anderson requested the same data from Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, Texas, Vermont and Washington. Data from Washington and Colorado, both of which have legalized pot, were unavailable at the time of the requests, and the Massachusetts Department of Criminal Justice never acknowledged his request.

The number of marijuana citations given in Florida "blows the rest of the states out or the water," Anderson reports in MuckRock.

Part of that is due to the unfortunate fact that possession of more than 20 grams of cannabis in Florida is a felony with a maximum punishment of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

U.S.: FBI Reports 693,000 Arrests For Marijuana Offenses In 2013


More than 87% were for simple possession

An estimated 693,481 arrests were made nationwide for marijuana in 2013, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s annual Uniform Crime Report. More than 87 percent of these arrests were for possession, which means one person was arrested for marijuana possession approximately every 51 seconds on average in the United States.

The same report last year showed that 749,842 marijuana arrests were made in 2012.

“We're pleased to see the drop, but arresting even one adult for using a substance that is objectively less harmful than alcohol is inexcusable," said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "Every year we see millions of violent crimes attributed to alcohol, and the evidence is clear that marijuana is not a significant contributing factor in such incidents. Yet our laws continue to steer adults toward drinking by threatening to punish them if they make the safer choice. These arrest numbers demonstrate that the threat is very real.

"Law enforcement officials should be spending their time and resources addressing serious crimes, not arresting and prosecuting adults for using marijuana," Tvert said. "Every year, these statistics show hundreds of thousands of marijuana-related arrests are taking place and countless violent crimes are going unsolved. We have to wonder how many of those crimes could be solved — or prevented — if police weren't wasting their time enforcing failed marijuana prohibition laws.

New York: Elected Officials, Community Groups Announce Legislation To End Racist Marijuana Arrests


Comprehensive Legislation would also Address Racial Bias, Collateral Consequences, and Fix Loopholes in NY Marijuana Laws

Despite Dramatic Drop in Stop and Frisk, NYPD on Track to Arrest as Many People in 2014 as Previous Year... and Racial Disparities Persist

Elected officials, community members and the coalition, New Yorkers for Public Health & Safety, will rally on Wednesday, July 9, on the Steps of New York City Hall, to call for comprehensive reform to address racially biased marijuana arrests and devastating collateral consequences.

Last year, there were nearly 30,000 marijuana possession arrests in New York City alone. Based on first-quarter data obtained from the state Division of Criminal Justice Services, the NYPD is now on track to make nearly as many marijuana possession arrests in 2014 as it did in 2013, with similarly shocking racial disparities.

Proposals to fix New York’s marijuana possession law have stalled in Albany the past few years. With the continued staggering racial disparities and Governor Cuomo’s recommitment to ending marijuana arrests, Assembly member Camara and Senator Squadron along with community members and advocates are calling for reforms that not only end racially bias marijuana arrests but also address the racial bias in the NY criminal justice system and deal with the devastating collateral consequences of these racially biased arrests.

What Does the Fairness and Equity Act Do?

New York: 80 Marijuana Possession Arrests A Day In First 4 Months of 2014 - More of the Same


According to the latest numbers from the Marijuana Arrest Research Project, in the first four months of 2014, the NYPD under Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton arrested an average of 80 people a day for possessing small amounts of marijuana.

This is virtually the same as the NYPD's average of 78 marijuana possession arrests a day in all of 2013 under Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly.

The most recent data from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) shows that marijuana arrest patterns in the first four months of 2014 under de Blasio and Bratton are indistinguishable from those of their predecessors in 2013.

See graphs and this release online at:

In 2013 blacks and Latinos were 87 percent of the people arrested for marijuana possession.
In the first four months of 2014, blacks and Latinos were 86 percent of the people arrested.

In 2013 teenagers between 16 and 20 were 29 percent of the people arrested.
So far in 2014 teens are also 29 percent of arrestees.

In 2013 young people between ages 21 and 25 were 27 percent of those arrested for marijuana possession, exactly the same as in the first third of 2014.

In 2013 people between the ages of 26 and 29 were 12 percent of those arrested.
In the first four months of 2014 they were 13 percent of those arrested.

In 2013, young people between the ages of 16 and 34 comprised 78 percent of all people arrested for simple marijuana possession.

New York: Groups To Gather In Support Of DA's Proposal To Stop Prosecuting Minor Marijuana Cases


Community Groups, Elected Officials Support Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson’s Proposal to Stop Prosecuting Low-Level Cannabis Possession Cases

Major Step Will Dramatically Reduce the Number of People in Brooklyn Unfairly Saddled with Lifelong Criminal Records
Advocates, Community Groups Applaud DA Thompson for His Leadership and Demand Reform at City Hall and in Albany

Elected officials, community members and the coalition, New Yorkers for Public Health & Safety, on Friday at 11 a.m. will rally on the steps of Brooklyn’s Borough Hall to applaud DA Ken Thompson’s proposal to stop prosecuting people arrested for possessing small amounts of marijuana.

DA Thompson’s office hopes that “individuals, and especially young people of color, do not become unfairly burdened and stigmatized by involvement in the criminal justice system for engaging in nonviolent conduct that poses no threat of harm to persons or property,” according to The New York Times. The Times obtained a confidential policy memo that was sent by the district attorney to NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton.

What: Press Conference about Marijuana Arrests in Brooklyn

When: Friday, April 25th 11am

Where: Steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall – 209 Joralemon Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201

New York: Gripping New Video Shows Life-Altering Consequences of Marijuana Possession Arrests


Statewide Polls Show Strong Majority of New Yorkers, Including Republicans, Support Fixing Marijuana Possession Laws; NY Lags Behind Neighboring States in Marijuana Reform

Advocates Call on Mayor-Elect de Blasio and Incoming NYPD Commissioner Bratton to End Racist, Costly and Unpopular Marijuana Arrest Crusade in NYC

BuzzFeed on Sunday night released a gripping video about one New Yorker’s harrowing experience of being arrested for marijuana possession. A Marijuana Arrest tells the story of former Manhattan Public School art teacher Alberto Willmore, who recounts how his life was upended after NYPD officers aggressively seized and charged him with marijuana possession.

Willmore immediately lost his teaching job, spent nearly two years fighting the case in court, and -– even though the case was thrown out -– he was still penalized by his employer, the Department of Education.

New Yorkers are all too familiar with stories like Willmore’s. Since 2002, nearly 500,000 people have been arrested in New York for marijuana possession. The vast majority of those arrests, 440,000, took place in New York City.

In 2012 alone in the City, there were nearly 40,000 such arrests, far exceeding the total marijuana arrests in NYC from 1981-1995. The cost to taxpayers is at least $75 million a year, and more than $600 million in the last decade, a profound waste of money. A report released earlier this year found that the NYPD had spent one million hours making these arrests over the past decade.

Pennsylvania: Racial Disparities Continue In Philadelphia Marijuana Arrests


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The disturbing trend of racial disparities in marijuana arrests continued in 2012 in Philadelphia, according to an annual review of cannabis arrest statistics from Philly NORML.

The Philly affiliate of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, using data from the Pennsylvania Uniform Crime Reporting System, found that there were 6,614 marijuana-related arrests in Philadelphia during 2012. Of those, 4,272 were for simple possession only.

African-Americans were arrested for marijuana possession at five times the rate of whites in Philadelphia. All other drug arrests are more equal when compared by race, according to Philly NORML.

About 75 percent of the marijuana possession arrests were of people between the ages of 18 and 34. Ninety percent were male.

By comparison, whites and blacks were arrested in almost equal numbers for opiates and cocaine.

When looking at the state of Pennsylvania as a whole, of all adults arrested for simple marijuana possession, 85 percent were men and 71 percent were white. Of adults arrested for sales and/or manufacture of cannabis, 58 percent were white and 90 percent were male.

"Marijuana arrests in Philadelphia continue with a disturbing trend of racial disparity," said Chris Goldstein of Philly NORML. "Black and white Americans consume marijuana at nearly equal rates and the city's population is admirably diverse, yet it is residents of color who continue to be the focus of law enforcement."

U.S.: FBI Study Shows Marijuana Arrests Continue At Near Record Levels


Vast majority arrested for simple possession of substance safer than alcohol

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Marijuana arrests continued at near record levels in 2012, and the vast majority of them were for simple possession. Nationwide, police in the U.S. conduct one drug arrest every 20 seconds, and one marijuana arrest every 42 seconds.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s annual Uniform Crime Report, an estimated 749,824 arrests were made nationwide for marijuana, more than 87 percent of which were for possession only. This is a slight decrease from 2011. Marijuana arrests accounted for nearly half of all drug arrests last year.

Monday's FBI report shows that 42.4 percent of all drug arrests were for possession of marijuana (possession-only cases constitute 88 percent of all marijuana arrests).

The report also noted that 59.9 percent of rapes, 53.2 percent of all violent crimes, and 81 percent of property crimes reported in 2012 were unsolved or did not result in arrest.

The full report is available here:

These results show that one person is arrested for marijuana possession every 48 seconds on average in the United States.

A Pew Research Poll released in April reported that a majority of Americans think marijuana should be taxed and regulated in a manner similar to alcohol.

New York: Big Apple Marijuana Arrests To Drop 20% In 2013

(Photo: The L Magazine)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The New York Legislature decriminalized marijuana in that state back in the 1970s. But simple marijuana possession is still the #1 cause of arrest in New York City, with 149,951 pot busts last year. What gives?

NYPD cops use the "public view" exception to the decrim law to trap people, that's what. Officers will misleadingly ask a suspect to "take the pot out of your pocket," and then bust them for "public display" of the weed, which ups what would have been a traffic ticket-like event into a violation with arrest and possible jail time.

More and more civil rights activists have noticed this disturbing phenomenon, and the NYPD is increasingly coming under pressure to stop its dishonest tactics when it comes to busting pot smokers. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo tried last year to remove the "public view" provision in the criminal code last year, reports John Surico at the Village Voice, and even NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly has asked his officers to back off with the pot arrests, already.

Happily, it seems this is finally starting to have an impact, 35 years after decrim.

Arizona: Study Says Medical Marijuana Will Create 1,500 Jobs

(Photo: Ross D. Franklin/AP)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A new study says that an estimated 1,500 jobs will be created by Arizona's new medical marijuana industry.

Tim Hogan, a researcher with Arizona State University who wrote the study, said he used figures from Oregon's established medical marijuana industry to estimate the size of Arizona's market, reports Julia Shumway of Cronkite News Service.

"It's a pretty simple industry," Hogan said. "There's not too much nuance. The main driving mechanism is how many patients."

Hogan's study, paid for by the Regulated Dispensaries of Arizona Association, indicated the industry has the potential to directly create 1,500 jobs for marijuana growers and dispensary employees, and also indirectly create 5,000 more jobs at places like grocery stores.

Arizona has about 38,000 registered medical marijuana patients and is allowed 126 dispensaries. Only a handful of dispensaries are open so far.

His study only models the straight economic impact of the industry instead of offering a more extensive cost-benefit analysis, according to Hogan.

"Given the size of the industry, it seems it will generate substantial income and tax revenue," Hogan said.

Dispensaries brought in nearly $200 million in sales in Colorado in 2012, according to that state's Department of Revenue. The shops paid about $5.5 million in state sales tax last year.

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