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The unpublished data estimates that police made 653,249 arrests for cannabis-related violations in 2016.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.

FBI Reports More Than 653,000 Arrests For Marijuana Offenses In 2016

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  An estimated 653,249 arrests were made nationwide for marijuana in 2016, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s annual Crime In the United States (CIUS) report. This means one person was arrested for marijuana approximately every 48 seconds on average in the United States.

The full report is available here:  (Note: Marijuana-specific data was not published online but is available upon request.)

“Arresting and citing over half a million people a year for a substance that is objectively safer than alcohol is a travesty,” said Morgan Fox, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Despite a steady shift in public opinion away from marijuana prohibition, and the growing number of states that are regulating marijuana like alcohol, marijuana consumers continue to be treated like criminals throughout the country. This is a shameful waste of resources and can create lifelong consequences for the people arrested.”

There are currently eight states that regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol for adults, four of which voted to do so in November 2016. Marijuana possession is also legal for adults in the District of Columbia. Twenty-three states and D.C. considered legislation in 2017 to regulate marijuana, including in Vermont where the legislature approved such a measure before the governor vetoed it.

“Regulating marijuana for adults creates jobs, generates tax revenue, protects consumers, and takes money away from criminals,” Fox continued. “It is time for the federal government and the rest of the states to stop ruining peoples’ lives and enact sensible marijuana policies.”

U.S. Marijuana Arrests Up Despite Changing Views: Pro-Pot Group

Despite an increasing number of Americans who do not view marijuana use as a crime, pot arrests across the United States increased last year for the first time since 2009, proponents of the drug’s legalization said on Monday.

Citing the FBI’s annual Uniform Crime Report released on Monday, the pro-legalization Marijuana Policy Project said 700,993 arrests were made for pot-related offenses during 2014, up from 693,058 the year before.

More than 88 percent of the marijuana arrests were for possession, and not for trafficking or other offenses, group spokesman Mason Tvert said in a statement.

“These numbers refute the myth that nobody actually gets arrested for using marijuana,” Tvert said. “It’s hard to imagine why more people were arrested for marijuana possession when fewer people than ever believe it should be a crime.”

Union Official High On Power Indicted For Extortion Of Marijuana Dispensaries

CALIFORNIA: Union official Daniel Rush was indicted by a federal grand jury Thursday for allegedly extorting cash and favors from marijuana dispensaries in Oakland, Calif.

Federal prosecutors told KRON-TV the charges include taking illegal payments as a union employee, honest services fraud, attempted extortion and money laundering. The United Food and Commercial Workers union (UFCW) has been at the forefront of organizing workers in the newly emerging marijuana industry. Rush served as the executive director of the UFCW cannabis division.

Rush was charged in August and was soon after fired from his position with UFCW. Rush allegedly used his influence to get cash or other benefits between 2010 and 2014. In some cases, the indictment alleges, he undermined his own union for personal gain. The charges say he endorsed dispensaries and told them how to defeat unionizing campaigns.

 

FBI Approves Illinois Marijuana Business Background Checks

ILLINOIS:  Illinois officials say the FBI has approved the use of its criminal history records for out-of-state and federal background checks of medical marijuana business owners.

Two state licensing agencies announced the FBI approval Tuesday.

The Associated Press first reported last week that Gov. Bruce Rauner had awarded the marijuana business licenses before out-of-state criminal background checks could be performed. At the time, the Illinois State Police were still waiting for the FBI to approve access to its database.

Illinois officials said Tuesday they’ll make sure the criminal background checks are conducted prior to the initial operation of any marijuana farm or retail shop.

Justice Department Giving Washington State Access To FBI Database

WASHINGTON: After a year of requests, the U.S. Justice Department says it is giving Washington state access to an FBI database so it can conduct nationwide background checks on people who apply to run legal marijuana businesses.

In a statement provided to The Associated Press, the department said Thursday that allowing the checks is consistent with its priorities in letting legal marijuana experiments in Washington and Colorado move forward — including keeping people with troublesome criminal histories out of the industry.

Washington state officials first asked last April for permission to run the checks.

FBI Balks At Background Checks For Washington State Retail Marijuana

WASHINGTON:  The FBI is refusing to run nationwide background checks on people applying to run legal marijuana businesses in Washington state, even though it has conducted similar checks in Colorado — a discrepancy that illustrates the quandary the Justice Department faces as it allows the states to experiment with regulating a drug that’s long been illegal under federal law.

Washington state has been asking for nearly a year if the FBI would conduct background checks on its applicants, to no avail. The bureau’s refusal raises the possibility that people with troublesome criminal histories could wind up with pot licenses in the state — undermining the department’s own priorities in ensuring that states keep a tight rein on the nascent industry.

It’s a strange jam for the feds, who announced last summer that they wouldn’t sue to prevent Washington and Colorado from regulating marijuana after 75 years of prohibition.