Drug offenses remained the single most common cause of arrest in 2012, mostly for offenses involving mere possession, according to newly released FBI estimates. Of the 12.2 million estimated arrests 1.55 million were for “drug abuse violations.”
Some 82 percent of those were for possession offenses, and 42.4 percent for marijuana possession. That is the equivalent of a drug arrest every 20 seconds, and a marijuana arrest every 42 seconds, according to calculations by Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a group of law enforcement officials who support the regulated legalization of drugs.
“These numbers represent a tremendous loss of human potential,” said LEAP Executive Director Neill Franklin, who was a police officer for 34 years. Each one of those arrests is the story of someone who may suffer a variety of adverse effects from their interaction with the justice system.” Among those effects are ineligibility for federal student loans, which applies only to convictions for drug offenses, or involuntary civil commitment for a sexual offense.
“Commit a murder or a robbery and the government will still give you a student loan,” Franklin said. “Get convicted for smoking a joint and you’re likely to lose it. This is supposed to help people get over their drug habit?”