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Someone Arrested for a Drug Charge Every 19 Seconds in the U.S.

I saw an amazing statistic in an article about the number of people arrested on drug crimes in the United States last year. By “amazing”, I mean hopelessly pathetic and extremely wasteful and expensive. According to the statistics, more than 1.6 million people were arrested on drug offenses in 2010, which equates to a drug arrest every 19 seconds- all day, every day last year. While some might assume, or at least hope, that most of these drug arrests involved more serious drugs like heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine, more than half of these drug arrests involved marijuana. And the overwhelming majority of marijuana arrests were for simple possession of marijuana as opposed to sale or trafficking in marijuana.

These 2010 numbers represent a slight increase in drug arrests from 2009 but a more than 8% increase from ten years ago. Another disturbing aspect of these high drug arrest numbers is that incidents of other crimes have decreased. Violent crimes such as murder and robbery as well as property crimes such as theft and burglary have all decreased in the same time period these drug arrests have reached all time highs. People in the United States continue to be arrested for drug crimes more than any other crime. However, with this War on Drugs being waged for over 40 years, it is hard to see how any of this is having a beneficial effect on this country. On the other hand, it is easy to see how incredibly expensive and wasteful it continues to be.