Your Tax Dollars At Waste

Marijuana Arrests Stay at Record-High Levels Nationally

CONTACT: Chuck Thomas, MPP director of communications ..... 202-462-5747

FBI Uniform Crime Reports ........................ 304-625-4995

FBI Reports 682,885 Marijuana Arrests in 1998, 88% for Possession.

Total Tops Murder, Rape, Robbery, and Aggravated Assault Arrests Combined!

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The total number of marijuana arrests in the United States in 1998 nearly equaled the 1997 record high of 695,200, according to an FBI report to be released on October 17. There were 682,885 marijuana arrests last year, 88% of them for possession (not sale or manufacture).[1]

The FBI's Uniform Crime Reports division's annual report, Crime in the United States, provides the number of arrests made by state and local law-enforcement agencies.

"This is a tremendous waste of criminal justice resources," said Chuck Thomas, director of communications for the Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project. "Marijuana prohibition creates dangerous criminal markets and takes police resources away from violent crime."

The number of marijuana arrests in 1998 was larger than the number of arrests for murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault combined (676,020).[2]

"It is time to stop arresting adults who grow and consume their own marijuana at home -- and instead put these public resources into violent-crime enforcement and effective drug education," said Chuck Thomas. "Public safety and children's health are at stake."

Earlier this year, the Federation of American Scientists published the Marijuana Policy Project's report, "Marijuana Arrests and Incarceration in the United States," which used government-supplied data to estimate that there are 59,300 marijuana offenders incarcerated in federal and state prisons and local jails in the U.S. at any given time. (Go to and search for "incarceration".)

"Looking at arrest and incarceration data, it's clear that Clinton's war on marijuana users is the toughest ever," said Thomas. There have been nearly 3.5 million marijuana arrests since President Clinton took office. "Drug Czar McCaffrey says that `we can't arrest our way out of the problem' and that `the national drug control strategy focuses on prevention and treatment' -- but he's lying. The focus is on arresting marijuana users."

1. Numbers are derived by multiplying the percentage of all "drug abuse violations" that were for marijuana "sale/manufacture" (5.4%) and for marijuana "possession" (38.4%) by the total number of arrests for all drug abuse violations (1,559,100). These percentages and numbers appear in Table 4.1, page 209, and Table 29, page 210, respectively, of FBI's Crime in the United States: 1998.

2. Table 29, page 210.