Drug War's Latest Tally: 872,721 Pot Arrests

Drug War's Latest Tally: 872,721 Pot Arrests
Posted by CN Staff on September 16, 2008 at 06:45:14 PT
By Paul Armentano, AlterNet
Source: AlterNet
USA -- If denial is the first sign of addiction, then Drug Czar John Walters is hooked to the gills. He's addicted to targeting and arresting marijuana consumers, and he'll do and say anything to keep this irrational and punitive policy in place.Speaking earlier this month on C-Span, the reigning Czar stretched his usual deceit to outrageous new heights. Responding to a question from the Marijuana Policy Project's Dan Bernath, Walters flatly denied the charge that over 800,000 Americans are arrested annually for violating pot laws.
"We didn't arrest 800,000 marijuana users," Walters proclaimed. "That's [a] lie."If only it were.According to data released yesterday in the FBI's annual Uniform Crime Report, police in 2007 arrested over 872,000 US citizens - that's nearly one out of every two Americans busted for illicit drugs -- for weed. (The raw data is available from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation here and here.) figure is a five percent increase over the total number of Americans busted in 2006. It's more than three times the number of citizens charged with pot violations sixteen years ago.Of those arrested in 2007, 89 percent - some 775,000 Americans -- were charged with simple pot possession, not trafficking, cultivation, or sale. (By comparison, 27 percent of those arrested for heroin and cocaine offenses were charged with sales.) Three out of four were under age 30; one in four were 18-years-old or younger.The FBI's tally is the highest marijuana arrest total ever-reported in law enforcement history. If this pace continues, annual arrests for pot will surpass one million per year by 2010.But to hear America's top drug cop tell it few, if any, citizens are ever arrested for pot possession, and absolutely no one goes to jail for breaking marijuana laws."The fact is today, people don't go to jail for the possession of marijuana," Walters alleged on C-Span. "Finding somebody in jail or prison for possession of marijuana is like finding a unicorn. It doesn't exist."Not true says the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics, which reported last year in black and white -- perhaps the Drug Czar is reading impaired - that 12.7 percent of state inmates and 12.4 percent of federal inmates incarcerated for drug abuse violations are serving time for marijuana offenses. Combining these percentages with separate U.S. Department of Justice statistics on the total number of state and federal drug prisoners suggests that, at a minimum, there are now about 33,655 state inmates and 10,785 federal inmates behind bars for marijuana offenses. (The report failed to include estimates on the percentage of inmates incarcerated in county or local jails for pot-related offenses, nor did it take into account the number of inmates serving time for violating the terms of their marijuana-related probation, such as those who submitted a 'dirty' urine to their parole officer.)No matter how one slices it, that's a lot of unicorns.It also begs the question: Why does the Drug Czar feel the need to go to such absurd lengths to hide this overt outgrowth of American drug policy? After all, the US Drug Enforcement Administration and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy typically issue chest-thumping press releases when they achieve record busts for offenses involving cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine? Why then do they shy away from making similar proclamations for pot?Perhaps it's because, deep down, even the Drug Czar knows that the use of cannabis does not pose anywhere near the health and safety threat as does the use of other intoxicants, including alcohol, and that most Americans - rightly - would be outraged to learn that our nation's so-called war on drugs is really just an assault on young adults caught with small bags of weed.Paul Armentano is the Deputy Director of NORML and The NORML Foundation in Washington, DC.Note: Cannabis arrests now comprise nearly 47.5 percent of all drug arrests in the United States, 89% of them for mere possession.Complete Title: The Drug War's Latest Tally: 872,721 Pot Arrests, an All-Time HighSource: AlterNet (US)Author: Paul Armentano, AlterNetPublished: September 16, 2008Copyright: 2008 Independent Media InstituteContact: letters Website: -- Cannabis Archives
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Comment #25 posted by TGordon on September 18, 2008 at 00:07:11 PT
Dr. Drew
Dr. Drew is all around a smart guy, but it annoys me to no end when he talks about cannabis. Some of the stuff he says is non-biased. But there is much that he says that has an obvious addiction treatment specialist bias to it. At least in my opinion anyway.I think it ridiculous when he says things such as people who use and then quit are almost doomed to fall into a depression. Couldn't it possibly be that depressed people attempt to self-medicate by smoking cannabis, which helps a great deal, and when they discontinue use the depression comes back. I believe studies have shown on at least one occasion that anti-depressants either don't work or at least don't work nearly as well as one would hope that they did.I also find it biased when he says things like he can notice a person who uses heavily based on the way they sound. As he put it not ten minutes ago on Love Line "There's a reason they're called stoners". I cannot believe that in all his years as a professional he has never heard of an eloquent cannabis user. In my many years as a non-professional anything I have heard/seen many users of cannabis who do not fit the "stoner stereotype". 
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Comment #24 posted by museman on September 17, 2008 at 11:51:21 PT
hemp building
Just one of the actual reasons why cannabis is illegal.See, 'William Randolph Hearst' and 'Robert James Anslinger.'Hearst lumber interests destroyed the ancient cedar forest that used to run from the Columbia River, all the way down to the Redwoods in California. All gone now. Left to rot on the ground. Clear cut to make room for Douglas Fir (stupid, inbred, domestic trees -like cows). When I used to grow in those woods, I remember coming upon huge logs, easily 20 foot or more in diameter laying all over the more inaccessible (by car or truck) areas of the forest. They left them to rot, and in some cases using them to build roads for the lumber trucks (pulled by oxen and Clydesdales). I found a few of those roads in wetland areas. Funny thing is, they didn't rot. Over a hundred years they lay in the rain forest of Oregon and Washington, and only the surface 2 or 3 inches succumbed. Left to rot, but what happens when an ordinary citizen decides to make use of the usefulness of cedar wood? They call it 'poaching' and I know someone who did time in the penitentiary for taking cedar rounds to make roof shakes.Hearst wanted the pulp of the fir -which grows faster than any of the native trees - for his paper mills. Having discovered that hemp kurds were even cheaper and faster to get, and made significantly stronger, better, paper with incredible longevity, Hearts Industries was severely threatened.The mentality of the Hearst-type lumberjack; go in and kill everything on site to get what you are after, including blowing up mountainsides, damming streams, polluting rivers and lakes, has existed in the Great Northwest since the 1800s. Fortunately (and very unfortunate in terms of what we could have had, and what we are left with) there are only a few old growth stands of timber left, so the lumber industry is finally dying out. The recent 'Biscuit Fire Complex' that burned thousands of acres of old growth trees a few years back here locally, is known by the wise to have been at least partly orchestrated by the investment backers of the ailing lumber industry, and used as an excuse to go in and rape the final vestiges of our once Majestic Forest.The irony is that though they claimed the fire 'destroyed' those old growth stands, the truth is that the fire only destroyed the newer forests, planted by the forest service, and the old growth survived. That didn't stop them from going in anyway in the pretense that they were 'salvaging' the wood. It took some serious protesting, lobbying, and suits filed against them to stop it, on paper. They closed the roads so the public couldn't go and see what they were doing. Places we used to go swimming on the river were made off limits to all but cops, rangers, feds, and loggers. The roads were only recently opened, now that the damage has been done.Of course, if the people had access to the natural resources, we could go out there and plant hundreds of thousands of acres of hemp that would in itself create and fuel dozens of clean, alternative industries, but only RICH PEOPLE have acces to resource, because they've got a significant part of the population convinced that 'debt' 'money' and 'credit' is some kind of inescapable 'reality.'FREE MARIJUANA FOR EVERYONEI like that slogan. Think I'm gonna keep it for a while.
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Comment #23 posted by paul armentano on September 17, 2008 at 11:20:08 PT
Dr. Drew radio show archived here
My 30-minute interview yesterday on Dr. Drew Pinsky's syndicated radio show is now archived and featured here: Highlight
Sep 16, 2008: Dr. Drew and Bob Forrest, speak to Senior Policy Analyst for The NORML Foundation, PaulDr Drew Live AudioSep 16, 2008: Dr. Drew welcomes Bob Forrest, then they speak to Senior Policy Analyst for The NORML Foundation, Paul Armentano. Next, they speak to Seth Abramovitch from, and Global Vehicle Line Executive Frank Weber.We touched on topics, including the record number of pot arrests in 2007, the Presidential candidates' views on drug policy, prescription-drug abuse, and the merits of state lobbying efforts versus federal campaigns. Feel free to download the archive and listen in.IF, by chance, the direct link above is failing, try:, go to "Select a program," and click on Dr. Drew Live to take you to the audio archives.
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Comment #22 posted by FoM on September 17, 2008 at 05:41:21 PT
Hemp Article
Houses Made Of Hemp Could Help Combat Climate ChangeScienceDaily (Sep. 16, 2008)  Houses made of hemp, timber or straw could help combat climate change by reducing the carbon footprint of building construction, according to researchers at the University of Bath.Complete Article:
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Comment #21 posted by FoM on September 17, 2008 at 05:39:43 PT
Thank you. I am hanging on and keeping the faith that we have a chance for a whole new beginning. There is such a difference between Republicans and Democrats it is easy for me to decide. Maybe it will take years to change the law but the values of the Democrats are more like what I think is important. I care about the middle and lower income people who share the USA with the rich folks.
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Comment #20 posted by yoshi on September 16, 2008 at 20:58:21 PT:
More, More, More of the same
Hope no one's holding their breath for change. Remember that groovy sax player Clinton, who after leaving office and asked about cannabis laws said it had been decriminalized in most places.
Keep the faith folks, love the site FoM
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Comment #19 posted by FoM on September 16, 2008 at 20:12:11 PT
I think McCain picking Palin shows how much Republicans don't want him but want someone new. She just isn't living where the majority of people are right now. She seems way out of her league. The Republicans use nasty tricks to win and stir up people. If people realize they are being used by them they might wake up. If Obama doesn't win I'll manage but your generation will have a terrible time and I sure don't want that.
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Comment #18 posted by fight_4_freedom on September 16, 2008 at 20:04:27 PT
Good idea Ekim
I'm sure he would be willing to help by wearing one. As far as I know though, MCCC does not have any proposal 1 items available yet. I'm guessing they will be very shortly though.I want to go down to see them so bad. But I have this disease, it's called "Myfundsalow". hehe
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Comment #17 posted by fight_4_freedom on September 16, 2008 at 19:58:10 PT
Thanks FoM
I thought so too. I'm hoping some of my friends get involved as well. But I'm highly doubting that will ever happen.I feel that McCain and his campaign really got a significant boost when he selected Sara Palin. So that kind of worries me. So I really feel Obama needs as much help as he can get.It's also a good way to campaign for proposal 1. Next time I go in there I'm going to see if I can leave a stack of "Vote Yes on Medical Marijuana" pamphlets. I'm definitely getting excited about the election.
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Comment #16 posted by ekim on September 16, 2008 at 19:46:16 PT
Maybe Paul can give state stats to Tommy 
so when he comes to MI he will know how many arrests out of the 870 thousand were in MI and what MI could have done with that money.Tommy was kind to ware the PRA shirt when presented to him at Gary's Comedy Club in Battle Creek MI. 
hope that the Med Cannabis shirt gets to Tommy so he can ware it to other States and show what MI is doing in Nov.September 20
Cheech & Chong: Light Up America Tour
Fillmore State (2 shows)
Detroit, MI
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Comment #15 posted by FoM on September 16, 2008 at 19:23:24 PT
We need a clean win to regain confidence. America is beautiful but she has an ugly side. Looking for a leader in our country far and wide. Words by Neil Young.Afterburner I just preordered the DVD of CSNY Deja Vu.CSNY Deja Vu 2008 at
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Comment #14 posted by FoM on September 16, 2008 at 19:19:46 PT
That is wonderful news. You are doing the right thing. You are getting involved in your future. You make me proud of our young people. For years I thought young people were lost in a way. 
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Comment #13 posted by fight_4_freedom on September 16, 2008 at 19:14:38 PT
I went to register to vote for my new address
today. I think we have until October 4th to register here in Michigan.I also went down to the Obama office to chat with them for a while. I met some really nice people down there. (just like you told me I would FoM)I signed up to do a couple hours of volunteering on Election Day. I will be driving people who are unable to drive to the polling places. I figure not only is this a way to help with the Obama campaign, but it will be a way to preach the word about PROPOSAL 1 right before these people go to vote.I already planned on taking the day before, the day of, and the day after off from work. I also hope that MCCC has the proposal 1 materials ready to go pretty soon here. I'm getting anxious.This is all starting to gain a lot of excitement. 
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Comment #12 posted by afterburner on September 16, 2008 at 18:44:07 PT
I Knew That the Election Was Close...
when I received my Absentee Ballot Application in the mail yesterday.
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Comment #11 posted by FoM on September 16, 2008 at 17:28:28 PT
Police Return Pot To Patient Three Years Later
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
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Comment #10 posted by FoM on September 16, 2008 at 15:00:33 PT
It's really good to see you. I hope things are getting better for you.
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Comment #9 posted by unkat27 on September 16, 2008 at 14:38:32 PT
Drug War All for the Big Pigs
I think it is important to point out that Nixon and his repug thugs knew exactly what they were doing when they declared an 'official' war on drugs abd got the congress and supreme court to authorize it. They knew it was a war that could never end and they knew the executive branch would gain endless 'war-time' dictatorial powers forever to fight it. Technically, what all that means is that any American that is involved with possession of illegal drugs can actually be 'disappeared' and/or tortured by the office of the president, the Drug Czar, or various execs of the DEA. What Americans have to understand is that the 'war on drugs' was not declared to protect them, it was cleverly devised and officially authorized to give endless, totalitarian, dictatorial powers to the executive office of the President and all the offices that support him in the drug war. Endless, totalitarian powers, such as those that permit them to destroy entire homes and families, steal entire estates, and kill and or kidnap any family members. All in the name of the 'war on drugs'. It was NOT declared to protect Americans. It WAS declared to give the president and his thugs totalitarian powers over all Americans lives.Furthermore, they couldn't do it without demonizing cannabis, because cannabis was and always has been the most popular illegal drug of choice. Without cannabis on the illegal list, there is no 'war', there are only a bunch of minor skirmishes.
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Comment #8 posted by observer on September 16, 2008 at 14:04:28 PT
How do we parse this Gem?
"We didn't arrest 800,000 marijuana users," Walters proclaimed.(S (NP We) (VP didn't (VP arrest (NP 800,000 marijuana users))).) How do we parse this gem? Let us count some ways.1. "We didn't arrest 800,000 marijuana users"When government people talk about cannabis, equivocation is the rule. We (meaning, people who work in the ONDCP - the Office of National Drug Control Policy) didn't arrest anyone! The police arrest people. 2. "We didn't arrest 800,000 marijuana users"Heh, we're arresting them right now, too!3. "We didn't arrest 800,000 marijuana users"No, we merely placed them under protective detention per 
order of the Deputy Assistant Judge Advocate General (Admiralty and Maritime Law) under authority delegated by the Secretary of the Navy, et al., per regulation in accordance with the protocol on Psychotropic Substances (Vienna, 1971, pursuant to resolution 1474 (XLVIII)1 of 24 March 1970 of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. "Arrest" isn't a term we utilize in the present circumstances. 4. "We didn't arrest 800,000 marijuana users"That number isn't exact, you see. Only we, the government, can truly know (in a mystical, religious sense) and, since you don't have a specific need to know (in a security clearance sense), you can never know. because telling you the secret government records, would be just like telling our enemies. You don;t have a need to know or a security clearance high enough for Government to tell you, so you can never know, know as the All-Seeing, All-Knowing Government knows.5. "We didn't arrest 800,000 marijuana users"They weren't "users", really, so much as psychotic, addled, brain-damaged addicts. We prefer to say "helping addicts", we never say "arresting peaceful marijuana smokers."---Again, great piece by Paul Armentano!
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Comment #7 posted by observer on September 16, 2008 at 12:36:59 PT
Arresting People for Using the Cannabis Plant
If denial is the first sign of addiction, then Drug Czar John Walters is hooked to the gills. He's addicted to targeting and arresting marijuana consumers, and he'll do and say anything to keep this irrational and punitive policy in place.Another great article from Paul Armentano, and I like how the focus is on arrests. The arrests are where the lies told about cannabis have their effects. The constant persecution of cannabis users leads me to believe this is precisely why the lies about cannabis are told: any excuse will do to continue arresting and jailing people who take or sell the cannabis flower. Whether prohibitionists are honest enough to come out and plainly admit it, government and especially government police need human fodder to arrest for pay, and human fodder to jail for profit. Cannabis users do nicely as human fodder to arrest for pay and human fodder to jail for profit. The more, the merrier for police unions, the drug treatment racket, the drug testing industry, the prison unions, the private prison companies like, uh, I don't know, maybe these private for-profit prison corporations: Corrections Corporation of America, CCA, CiviGenics, Cornell Companies, Correctional Systems Inc, Service House, Inc, Emerald Correctional Management, Cor-Plan Inc,, LCS Correction Services, Psychiatric Solutions Inc, Management Training Corp, MTC, MTC Corporation, Kellogg, Brown Root, KBR, Commonwealth Corrections Solutions, Commonwealth Corrections, Prison Health Services Inc, Prison Health Services, Correctional Medical Services Inc, Correctional Medical Services, MHM Correctional Services Inc, MHM Correctional Services, Wackenhut Corrections Facility, Wackenhut Prison, Wackenhut, Wackenhut Corporation, Wackenhut Services Incorporated, WSI, GEO Group, GEO, George C. Zoley, George Zoley, Alternative Monitoring Services, American Correctional Association, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Bed Brokers, Biometric Systems, Biometric Foundation, Bobby Ross Group, Capital Correction Resources, Cornell Corrections, Dominion Management, Dove Development Corporation, Earl Warren Legal Institute, Federal Extradition Agency, General Security Service, Global Solutions Ltd, Iridian Technologies, Inc, IriScan, Inc, Juvenile and Jail Facility Management Services, Inc., Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Advisory Council (LECTAC), Mace Security Inc., Management and Training Corporation, Marriott Management Services, N-Group Securities, National Criminal Justice Commission, National Institute of Corrections, NIC, Premier Custodial Group, Premier Detention Services, Printrak, Prison Industries, Prison Realty Trust, Prison telephone service, AT T The Authority, BellSouth MAX, MCI Maximum Security, North American Intelecom, R S Prisoner Transport, rent-a-cell, bed brokers, SENTRI, Secured Electronic Network for Travelers' Rapid Inspection, Serco Group, Inc., Stun Tech Inc., TransCor America, Urban Development Corporation, etc, etc.) But, hey, you never know. All those Good American Corporations may actually have our best interests at heart and not look at us as the human "parasites" and "wolves" and "cockroaches" (their terms) were looked upon by Good German corporations in Hitler Germany. Lord knows the people making good money off of jailing cannabis users now, never lobby our highly honest government to jail cannabis users, so no need, of course, to worry about corrupt vested interests influencing our honest politicians. 
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Comment #6 posted by paul armentano on September 16, 2008 at 12:01:45 PT
Dr. Drew
We went 30 minutes: from 20 after the hour to ten of.It appears the feed on KGIL is from 3-4pst. (We were live, so this is a delayed feed). Drew's show is 2 hours long, so hopefully it will highlight the hour I was one. If not, hopefully my segment will be up on the Westwood One archives page tomorrow.
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Comment #5 posted by konagold on September 16, 2008 at 10:59:58 PT:
it is time we addressed the basic nature of cannabis prohibition as both racist and sexistAnslinger in 1937 testified that Cannabis causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negros, entertainers, and any othersthe word marijuana is a racist sexist term implying that it takes two women Mary and Jane to satisfy the desires spawned by cannabis consumptionsexist and racist in one word pot laws are throwback Jim Crow laws and it is HIGH time they be attacked as such 
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Comment #4 posted by HempWorld on September 16, 2008 at 10:54:47 PT
Clarification ...
Sorry all, I meant to say that 1/3 all votes in this country are recorded on electronic voting machines. Diebold is the manufacturer of these machines. Electronic voting machines have no paper trail and are easily manipulated by anyone let alone the manufacturer. This explains the 're-election' of Bush in 2004, something that was not foreseen by 'the networks' or the polls. Mmm, smells fishy but hey I like fish ... and no-one cares anyway. Now we are seeing a re-run of 2004!
Arnold Smoking A Joint When He Was Young!
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Comment #3 posted by Hope on September 16, 2008 at 10:53:08 PT
Power and Grace to you, Paul.
Thank you.
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Comment #2 posted by paul armentano on September 16, 2008 at 10:44:45 PT
I'll be discussing this data w/ Drew Pinsky today
I'll also be appearing as a guest on Dr. Drew Pinksy's national radio show to discuss this matter further at 11:20am pst today. A feed for the show is available online at:'s also archived at Westwood One.
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Comment #1 posted by HempWorld on September 16, 2008 at 10:18:43 PT
Paul are you surprised by Johnny Walters' lies?
This whole 'drug war,' a term coined by Anslinger, not Nixon, is a giant lie, just as the 'war on terror.'The Bush admin. has put the propaganda machine into overdrive and with no more free elections in the US since 2000 who cares anyway?I am predicting right here that McCain (cocain) will win with 1/3 of the voting machines controlled by Diebold, who are you kidding? Who is lying?
On a mission from God!
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