The FBI reports that 700,993 people were arrested for marijuana-related offenses in 2014. More than 88% were for simple possession. This is the first time the number of arrests have increased since 2009. Harry Anslinger, the first commissioner of the U.S. Treasury Department's Federal Bureau of Narcotics and a supremely hateful racist, would be proud.
"These numbers refute the myth that nobody actually gets arrested for using marijuana," said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project. "It's hard to imagine why more people were arrested for marijuana possession when fewer people than ever believe it should be a crime. Law enforcement officials should not be wasting their time and resources arresting and prosecuting adults for using marijuana. While law enforcement was busy making nearly three quarters of a million marijuana arrests, more than 35% of murders went unsolved, the clearance rate for rape was less than 40%, and for robbery and property crimes, it was below 30%."
There are a lot of reasons why weed arrests are on the rise. It's important to keep weed illegal to support the prison industry, drug testing labs, court-mandated treatment centers, law-enforcement budgets, corrupt officials, and all the other businesses that make money from weed prohibition. It's also a useful way to lock up poor people and minorities without having a legitimate reason. As a conservative estimate, every person who gets arrested for weed probably has to pay at least $1,000 in fines, bonds, treatment, lawyers, etc. $1,000 X 700,993 = 700 million dollars. Then you have to figure each arrest costs at least $1,000 from police department budgets (paid by taxes) and incarceration (paid by taxes). This is real folding money and the people who are enriched by drug prohibition are not going to give up without a fight.