With Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s monumental backing of medical marijuana last week and the admission of New Hampshire and Illinois into the cadre of states allowing medical marijuana, August has already been a great month for marijuana supporters. It is now legal in 20 states and the District of Columbia, and the numbers are rising quickly. For supporters of marijuana legalization, this should be reason to cheer. Right?
While state legislatures are giving marijuana supporters a reason to celebrate, their state law enforcement is not. Many of the states that have legalized medical marijuana have cracked down even harder on marijuana possession arrests. In 2010, there was a 3.06% increase in the marijuana possession arrest rate (people arrested per 100,000 citizens) in states that had legal medical marijuana bills. Of the 15 states that had legalized medical marijuana by that time, the arrest rate increased for 10 of them and decreased for only five. While the data does not specify if people arrested for marijuana possession are buying their weed on the streets or in a dispensary, this news should be troubling for supporters of legalization.