The FBI published their annual Uniform Crime Report of offences in the States this week and revealed that marijuana arrests reached an all time high of 786,545 people in 2005, with over 696,000 busted for simple pot possession.
Marijuana arrests made up 42% of all drug arrests, prompting an alarmed response from civil liberties campaigners including Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).
"These numbers belie the myth that police do not target and arrest minor marijuana offenders," Mr St. Pierre told the Drug War Chronicle. "This effort is a tremendous waste of criminal justice resources that diverts law enforcement personnel away from focusing on serious and violent crime, including the war on terrorism," he argued.
The Chronicle reported that pot busts have more than doubled from 380,000 in 1993, with dire punishments for individuals caught in the net.
"The consequences of a drug arrest don't end with handcuffs and jail cells; it's important to remember that when these numbers come out every year, said Tom Angell, communications director for Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP
Even if people aren't being sent to jail for long periods, they still suffer a great deal by losing access to public benefits and having criminal records that will haunt them for the rest of their lives, he pointed out.
The latest statistics emerged as former drug warrior turned legalization advocate Peter Christ, of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), continued his campaign against the drug war with a speech at the North Branford Rotary Club, New Haven.
Mr Christ, a former drug squad cop who spent 12 years as an undercover narcotics officer in New Jersey, said he busted over 1,000 individuals principally through tricking and deceiving them.
I changed everything about me except my skin color to fit in with those individuals, became whatever they wanted me to be, their best friend, their closest confidant, so I could betray them and send them to jail. As soon as
I finished with one I would start with another. Friendship, betrayal, jail, over and over again, Mr Christ confessed.
"I can't tell you how many of those people, mostly young, mostly poor, probably mostly people of color, would have gone on to have a perfectly good, healthy, happy lives had I not come across their path, he added.
http://www.leap.cc (COPS SAY LEGALIZE DRUGS! Click to ASK US WHY . . .)
http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/ucr.htm (FBI Uniform Crime Report:
http://www.ssdp.org (Students For Sensible Drug Policy)
Jonty Skrufff (JontySkrufff.com)