Washington: Felony Marijuana Convictions Fall Nearly 90 Percent

WASHINGTON:  The number of cannabis-related felony sentences in Washington fell an estimated 90 percent in the 18-months immediately following the opening of adult use marijuana retail stores, according to an analysis by the Washington Caseload Forecast Council.

Investigators identified only 147 marijuana-related crimes resulting in felony sentences in this period of time, compared to 1,312 felony offenses in the years prior to legalization.

Other jurisdictions have reported similar declines in marijuana-related arrests post-legalization. In California, felony-related marijuana arrests fell 74 percent between 2016 and 2017, following the enactment of adult use legalization.


For more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at (202) 483-5500.

Study: Adult Use Legalization Associated With Improved Crime Clearance Rates

WASHINGTON: The enactment of state laws regulating adult marijuana use is associated with an increase in crime clearance rates, according to data published in the journal Police QuarterlyClearance rates are calculated by dividing the number of crimes that are ‘cleared’ (charges are filed) by the total number of crimes reported.

Criminologists at Washington State University assessed crime clearance rates in Colorado and Washington in the years immediately prior to and immediately following the enactment of adult use legalization. They reported that clearance rates were either flat or decreasing prior to legalization, but then improved significantly following the change in law – particularly with respect to violent crimes and property crimes.

Authors concluded, “[T]he current evidence suggests that legalization produced some demonstrable and persistent benefit in clearance rates, benefits we believe are associated with the marijuana legalization proponents’ prediction that legalization would positively influence police performance.”

Separate studies have previously reported an association between legalization and decreased criminal activities, including a reduction in incidences of violent crime.


For more information, contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org. Full text of the study, “Marijuana legalization and crime clearance rates: Testing proponent assertions in Colorado and Washington,” appears in Police Quarterly. Additional information is available from the NORML fact-sheet ‘Marijuana and Crime Rates‘.

Marijuana Arrest Data Absent From Latest FBI Uniform Crime Report

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Tabulations calculating the percentage of annual marijuana arrests nationwide are absent from the 2017 edition of the FBI Uniform Crime Report, which the agency released on Monday.

The table, ‘Arrests for Drug Abuse Violations: Percent Distribution by Region,’ had for decades appeared in the section of the FBI report entitled ‘Persons Arrested.’ It was one of over 50 tables eliminated from this year’s edition of the Crime Report. NORML had relied on the table in order to extrapolate and publicize annual marijuana arrest data, which it has tracked since 1965.

According to the latest FBI report, police made 1,572,579 arrests for illicit drug offenses in 2016. This total represents nearly a six percent increase in arrests since 2015.

Although data with regard to what percentage of these drug arrests were marijuana-related was absent from this year’s report, the FBI did provide percentages by request to Marijuana Majority’s Tom Angell, who summarized the data in a column for Forbes.com.

The unpublished data estimates that police made 653,249 arrests for cannabis-related violations in 2016. Of these, 587,516 arrests (90 percent of all marijuana arrests) were for possession-related offenses.

The arrest total is an increase from 2015 figures and marks the first year-to-year uptick in nationwide marijuana arrests in nearly a decade. The uptick comes at a time when eight states have enacted laws to regulate the adult use of cannabis and when public support for legalizing the plant is at a record high.

For more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at (202) 483-5500.

Criminal Justice Referrals Driving Youth Marijuana Treatment Admissions

NEW YORK:  Over half of all young people entered into drug treatment for marijuana are placed there by the criminal justice system and this percentage is increasing, according to data published online in the journal Substance Use & Misuse.

A team of researchers from Binghamton University in New York and the University of Iowa reviewed youth marijuana treatment admission data (TEDS-A) during the years 1995 to 2012.

Investigators reported that youth admissions for cannabis rose 65 percent during the study period – from 52,894 annual admissions in 1995 to 87,528 in 2012. Admissions rose most precipitously among Latinos (an increase of 256 percent since 1995) and African American youth (an increase of 86 percent). Criminal justice system referrals rose 70 percent during this period, and now account for 54 percent of all substance abuse admissions by young people.

Among those enrolled in treatment, half exhibited little if any evidence of suffering from marijuana dependence or a disorder. Specifically, 30 percent of all young people admitted into marijuana treatment since 2008 had no record of having consumed cannabis in the 30 days prior to their admittance. Another 20 percent of those entered into treatment had used cannabis three times or fewer in the month prior to their admission. Prior evaluations of TEDS data among adults have yielded similar results.

“Our findings indicate that the severity of drug use involved in those admissions has decreased,” authors concluded. “This study highlights the importance of identifying youth in actual need of treatment services.”

Since the late 1990s, both youth use of marijuana and the prevalence of cannabis use disorder by young people have declined significantly.

For more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at (202) 483-5500. Full text of the study, “Trends in youth marijuana treatment admissions: Increasing admissions contrasted with decreasing drug involvement,” appears in Substance Use & Misuse.

Spokane Police Give Out Few Marijuana Citations

WASHINGTON: Riverfront Park might be the worst place to get high in Spokane.

Data from Spokane Municipal Court shows marijuana users are far more likely to be fined for consuming pot in public by a park security guard than by a Spokane police officer, though they’re unlikely to get a ticket at all.

Citywide, law enforcement officers have written 28 tickets for public consumption of marijuana since March 2013, when an ordinance prohibiting public consumption was added to the city code. Only six of those tickets were written by Spokane police officers, who say they’re usually too busy with other calls for service to deal with pot smokers.

“You’re seeing what the numbers are. That should be indicative of how much of a priority marijuana enforcement is for us,” said Spokane police Capt. Brad Arleth, who oversees the department’s downtown precinct.