Marijuana Arrests Drop for First Time Since 2002

For Immediate Release

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Bruce Mirken, MPP director of communications 415-585-6404 or 202-215-4205

Marijuana Arrests Drop for First Time Since 2002

Five Years of Record Arrests Had No Effect on Rate of Marijuana Use

WASHINGTON - U.S. marijuana arrests declined in 2008 - the first such drop since 2002 -- according to figures released by the FBI today. According to the just-released Uniform Crime Reports, U.S. law enforcement made 847,863 arrests on marijuana charges, 89 percent of which were for possession, not sale or manufacture -- more arrests for marijuana possession than for all violent crimes combined. An American was arrested on marijuana charges every 37 seconds.

Marijuana arrests peaked in 2007 at over 872,000.

The new report comes on the heels of the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, released Sept. 10, which showed an increase in both the number and percentage of Americans who admit having used marijuana. In 2003, when marijuana arrests set what was then an all-time record of 755,186, 40.6 percent of Americans aged 12 and over said they had used marijuana. In 2008, that figure was 41 percent, or 102,404,000 Americans willing to tell government survey-takers that they had used marijuana.

"This slight dip in the number of marijuana arrests provides a small amount of relief to the tens of millions of American marijuana consumers who have been under attack by their own government for decades," said Marijuana Policy Project executive director Rob Kampia. "It's time to stop wasting billions of tax dollars criminalizing responsible Americans for using a substance that's safer than alcohol, and to put an end to policies that simply hand this massive consumer market to unregulated criminals."

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With more than 26,000 members and 100,000 e-mail subscribers nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. MPP believes that the best way to minimize the harm associated with marijuana is to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. For more information, please visit http://MarijuanaPolicy.org.

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