According to the FBI’s latest Uniform Crime Report released today, law enforcement agencies in the US made more than 1.57 million arrests for drug law violations in 2016, a 5.63% increase over the previous year. That’s one drug arrest every 20 seconds – and over three times more arrests than for all violent crimes combined.
“Criminalizing drug use has devastated families across the US, particularly in communities of color, and for no good reason,” said Maria McFarland Sánchez Moreno, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “Far from helping people who are struggling with addiction, the threat of arrest often keeps them from accessing health services and increases the risk of overdose or other harms.”
Unlike previous years, data on arrests for specific drugs such as marijuana, or for specific offenses such as drug possession or drug sales, were not immediately made available by the FBI. In 2015, the most recent year for which data is available, 84% of all drug arrests were for simple low-level drug possession – while 43% of all drug arrests (643,121) were for marijuana law violations, and 39%