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Marijuana Use and Arrests Increased in 2009, Group Calls for Regulation

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Photo by bobster855 via Flickr

Photo by bobster855 via Flickr
With 2009 national crime statistics released by the FBI on Tuesday, marijuana advocates are once again pointing out that enforcement on the drug continues to drain resources. In 2009, marijuana-related arrests increased by 8%. Of those 858,408 arrests, 88% were for possession, not sale or manufacture, the D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project points out. The numbers are equivalent to an arrest made every 37 seconds in the United States.

“It’s now more obvious than ever that decades of law enforcement efforts have absolutely failed to reduce marijuana’s use or availability, and that it’s simply an exercise in futility to continue arresting hundreds of thousands of Americans for using something that’s safer than alcohol,” said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project. “Rather than criminalize millions of otherwise law-abiding citizens and waste billions of dollars that could be better spent combating violent crime and other real threats to public safety, it’s time we embrace sensible marijuana policies that would regulate marijuana the same way we do alcohol or tobacco.”

Another study, released today by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, noted that 16.7 million Americans had used marijuana in the past month.

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In November, Californians will vote on Prop 19, which proposes to legalize and tax marijuana.