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It’s about time for police to stop focusing on marijuana and start arresting real criminals, according to marijuana legalization advocates.More than 45 per cent of all drug possession arrests in the U.S. last year were for marijuana, according to the FBI’s annual crime report.
In Colorado alone, about 10,000 people per year are arrested on marijuana offenses, Morgan Fox with Marijuana Policy Project told Business Insider.
In Washington, that number jumps to about 13,000 people.
But thanks to new measures approved by voters Tuesday that legalized recreational use of marijuana in both states, that’s all about to change.
“It’s a conscious decision that [police] make to concentrate on cannabis but that’s not really what the citizens want,” said Allen St. Pierre, executive director of marijuana law reform group NORML.
Once police stop attacking marijuana users and “decide they’re going to follow the law,” departments will be able to devote more time and resources to pursuing real crimes, according to Fox.
“Overall it will definitely be a net gain in how much we have to spend on law enforcement,” Fox said.
Despite filing scores of public records requests, St. Pierre said he and other experts are no closer to knowing how many people are actually incarcerated for marijuana possession. But the number likely still is too high.
If he had to hazard a guess, St. Pierre said about 100,000 people across the U.S. are probably in jail on possession charges, a number that’s far higher than any European country.
“America’s penchant for arresting and incarcerating people is really the problem,” not marijuana, according to St. Pierre. “They’d [Europe] never be so stupid as to waste time and tax dollars on this.”