Recently released data from the FBI reports that marijuana-related arrests were up in 2014. There were 700,993 marijuana arrests last year in the United States – roughly an arrest every 45 seconds – up by 7,000 from the year before. http://www.ibtimes.com/marijuana-legalization-2015-us-pot-arrests-increased-2014-1-every-45-seconds-fbi-data-2116938
Nearly 90 percent of all marijuana arrests in 2014 were for simple possession. The rise in arrests comes despite 24 states having loosened restrictions or legalized marijuana.
Legalization continues to be a polarizing issue, even as it continues to gain traction across the country. However, the rise in arrest rates indicates proponents may not have gained nearly so much ground as previously thought.
“It’s unacceptable that police still put this many people in handcuffs for something that a growing majority of Americans think should be legal,” stated Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority. “A record number of states are expected to vote on legalizing marijuana next year, so we hope and expect to see these numbers significantly dropping soon.” http://www.ibtimes.com/marijuana-legalization-2015-us-pot-arrests-increased-2014-1-every-45-seconds-fbi-data-2116938
Seven states are set to vote on whether they want to legalize marijuana in 2016. Hawaii, Nevada, Maine, Arizona, California, Massachusetts and Missouri all have marijuana decriminalization on the ballot. Four other states are currently reviewing their legislation around marijuana use as well. http://www.cheatsheet.com/business/5-states-and-one-city-ready-to-legalize-marijuana.html/?a=viewall
Despite the spike in marijuana-related arrests, a growing number of law enforcement officials are coming out in support of marijuana decriminalization. This movement of police officers and government officials rejects the now 35-year-old war on drugs. These officers believe outright prohibition increases the value of illicit substances and creates incentives for dealers to profit. http://www.browardpalmbeach.com/news/police-organization-wants-marijuana-legalized-in-florida-7284456
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) wants drugs like marijuana to be decriminalized and regulated. “LEAP is not about free reign of having drugs legalized willy-nilly, but about removing the criminal element that controls drugs and bringing it back to regulated reforms that benefit us all,” LEAP representative Ray Strack said in an interview. http://www.browardpalmbeach.com/news/police-organization-wants-marijuana-legalized-in-florida-7284456
Recently, Albuquerque, New Mexico and Toledo, Ohio reduced the penalty for possession of marijuana. It is now punishable by a fine instead of incarceration. Similar efforts are also underway in Wisconsin and parts of New York State.
Anthony Wile (http://haim.li/anthony-wile/), Chief Editor of The Daily Bell, believes that the 2016 UN General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem (UNGASS) will set the global tone for worldwide regulation and distribution of marijuana. “It is inevitable that the world is going to legalize marijuana,” Wile said. “I think it will be highly regulated and overseen by the UN, and it will likely be biased towards medicinal-grade oils and extracts because they can be precisely measured and precisely prescribed. That’s not to say there won’t be a heavily regulated smokable flower industry as well; it is just likely to take more time as the medicinal marketplace transitions into a regulated recreational marketplace. The bottom line is that in a regulated medicinal market it will be standardized oils and extracts that will be more accepted – and that is predominantly where we are at in most jurisdictions at this time.” https://www.unodc.org/ungass2016/en/multimedia.html
The UN’s 1960 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs attempted to eliminate narcotics worldwide and set the international standard for drug enforcement. Since then, attitudes regarding marijuana have shifted dramatically, and the medical benefits of the drug are commonly accepted.
This is reflected in the regulatory approach as well. “South American countries’ leaders requested the UN refocus the upcoming 2016 Special Session on Drugs by replacing the goal of global eradication goals with an emphasis on treating drug use, instead, as a public health problem,” Anthony Wile pointed out. “This is indicative of the changing attitude around the problems associated with drug use.”
Anthony Wile (http://anthony-wile.brandyourself.com/) also noted that America’s burgeoning marijuana industry provides a powerful monetary incentive when it comes to decriminalization or legalization. “Colorado has added $150 million to its state revenue since taxation of legalized marijuana began, in January 2014,” Anthony Wile said. http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/USA-Update/2015/0906/Colorado-raises-150-million-from-marijuana.-Will-more-states-legalize
With the global economy in various degrees of flux, new revenue streams are attractive to cash-strapped federal, state and even local administrations. In the US, states stand to profit in two ways: Officials can implement taxes on the sale of marijuana to boost revenue and officials can reduce law enforcement, prison and court costs by shrinking arrests. It’s been estimated that the numbers would be significant – with as many as 700,000 fewer people arrested for marijuana possession, which would help reduce pressure on an extremely overburdened correctional system. http://www.ibtimes.com/marijuana-legalization-2015-us-pot-arrests-increased-2014-1-every-45-seconds-fbi-data-2116938
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