Drug War Priorities Shift From Hard Drugs To MJ!

Drug War Priorities Shift From Hard Drugs To MJ!
Posted by FoM on July 09, 1999 at 07:24:53 PT
NORML Weekly Update News
Source: NORML
Washington, D.C. Marijuana arrests more than doubled since 1990 while, at the same time, the percentage of arrests for the sale and manufacture of cocaine and heroin fell by over 50 percent, a preliminary analysis of drug arrest statistics by The NORML Foundation announced today.
  "These figures affirm that law enforcement priorities have shifted from targeting hard drug users and traffickers to arresting primarily recreational marijuana smokers," NORML Foundation Executive Director Allen St. Pierre said. "As we enter the new millennium, the drug war is now more than ever a war on marijuana smokers."   The NORML Foundation examined FBI drug arrest figures between 1990 and 1997, the last year the agency has data available. NORML found: Drug arrests increased 31 percent since the beginning of the decade. Rising marijuana possession arrests are chiefly responsible for this overall rise in drug arrests. Marijuana arrests rose every year since 1991, reaching an all time high of 695,200 in 1997. Marijuana arrests increased 59 percent during this period. Conversely, use of marijuana by adults remained unchanged. The percentage of arrests for the sale or manufacture of cocaine and heroin fell 51 percent between 1990 and 1997. The percentage of arrests for all heroin and cocaine violations also fell by 34 percent. There have been more than 3.7 million marijuana arrests this decade. Eighty-three percent of these arrests were for possession only.   The arrest figures conflict with statements made by White House Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey, who recently announced that America "can not arrest our way out of the [drug] problem."   "The FBI data show that we are witnessing an unprecedented number of drug arrests in the 1990s, the largest percentage of which are for marijuana possession," St. Pierre said. "McCaffrey and others need to examine these figures and explain why they run contrary to the administration's stated goals."   St. Pierre also noted that marijuana use among adolescents has increased despite the law enforcement crackdown. "Clearly, the figures show that targeting and arresting adult marijuana smokers does not deter adolescent experimentation with the drug."   St. Pierre labeled marijuana prohibition an expensive and wasteful policy, and called for further analysis of whether the increased emphasis on marijuana enforcement is causing police to neglect enforcement efforts aimed at harder drugs like cocaine and heroin. The NORML Foundation will soon issue a full report on its website:   For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre or Paul Armentano of The NORML Foundation   (202) 483-8751. 
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