The nation’s law enforcement agencies are still arresting people for marijuana possession at near record-high rates, according to the latest national data released today by the FBI. In 2014, at least 620,000 people were arrested for simple pot possession — that’s 1,700 people per day, or more than 1 per minute. And that number is an undercount, because a handful of states either don’t report arrest numbers to the FBI, or do so only on a limited basis.
Nationwide, more than 1 in 20 arrests were for simple marijuana possession. Twenty years ago, near the dawn of the drug war, fewer than 2 percent of arrests were for pot possession. But that rate rose steadily throughout the 1990s and 2000s, even as those years saw a shift toward less-restrictive marijuana laws at the state level.
2014 saw the first year of fully legal recreational marijuana markets in Washington state and Colorado. But even as marijuana arrests plunged in those states, they crept upward at the national level — suggesting that some jurisdictions are ramping up their marijuana enforcement efforts even as a majority of the public embraces the notion of legal weed.