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2600 Virginia Avenue, NW, Suite 100
Washington DC 20037
World Wide Web: http://www.LP.org
For release: October 31, 2000
For additional information:
George Getz, Press Secretary
Phone: (202) 333-0008 Ext. 222
E-Mail: pressreleases@hq.LP.org

Police arrest more people for marijuana
than murder, rape, and robbery combined

WASHINGTON, DC -- Police arrested more people last year on marijuana charges than for all violent crimes combined, according to new FBI figures -- a policy that endangers public safety by diverting police resources, Libertarians charge.

"The War on Marijuana Smokers is good news for brutal street thugs, but it's bad news for ordinary Americans," said Harry Browne, the Libertarian Party's presidential candidate. "Why? Because police are kept busy arresting non-violent pot smokers -- while our families, friends, and neighbors fall prey to murderers, rapists, and robbers."

According to the new FBI Uniform Crime Report, police arrested more people for non-violent marijuana offenses in 1999 than for murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault -- combined.

In all, 704,812 Americans were arrested last year on marijuana- related charges, while only 635,990 people were arrested for the crimes of murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault.

"That means that in 704,812 instances last year, police spent their time and your money arresting and booking marijuana smokers instead of apprehending violent criminals," said Browne.

"So the next time you hear about a vicious murder in your community, ask yourself: Could the police have prevented this crime if they hadn't devoted uncounted millions of dollars and man-hours arresting those 704,812 people on marijuana charges over the past year?"

Of those arrested for marijuana offenses, 88% were charged with mere possession, noted Browne, and approximately 60,000 Americans are languishing in prison today on marijuana charges, according to the Marijuana Policy Project.

"Make no mistake: People do get sent to jail in America for simple marijuana possession," he said. "This is more proof that the War on Drugs has created a revolving door prison system. In goes the pot smoker; out comes the psychopathic killer, the kidnapper, or the child molester released on early parole."

Federal figures also show that a total of 4,175,357 people have been arrested on marijuana charges during the Clinton-Gore administration, even though President Clinton admitted he smoked marijuana "but didn't inhale" and Vice President Gore admits he smoked marijuana in his twenties.

"Mr. Clinton and Mr. Gore, would you be better men today if you had been thrown in jail for your youthful indiscretions?" asked Browne. "If not, how can you possibly justify throwing your fellow Americans in jail today for the same youthful indiscretions?"

Interestingly, the number of marijuana arrests is rising at the same time public support for the Drug War is falling, said Browne.

"FBI statistics show that 22,000 more people were arrested on marijuana charges in 1999 than in 1998," he said. "Yet marijuana-related initiatives are approved nearly every time they're put to a popular vote, and California's Proposition 36 -- which would eliminate prison terms for all non-violent drug offenses -- appears headed to victory as well.

"So while ordinary Americans see the futility of our current drug policies, politicians remain addicted to the War on Drugs and determined to arrest non-violent pot-smokers. That's why people who are victimized by murderers, rapists, and robbers are actually victimized twice: Once by street thugs, and once by the politicians who force police to waste their time arresting harmless pot-smokers as real criminals go free."

So ridiculous I must reply to this. Deep Breath

Police departments are just that. Departments. There are sections and divisions, organized crime, alcohol, tobacco, and firearms, gang-related issues.

Do you believe that cops are spending more money and time on sting operations than stopping domestic violence, gang wars, serial killers, and rapists?

Ok, so the libertarian party, (whom I don't wish to diss), wants us to believe that too much time is being spent on suppressing the drug trade. That may or may not be the case, but cutting back on that corner won't give you lower violent crime rates. That's where the study in the preceding writeup is misleading. I can give you a list of many studies that show the increase of drugs will lead to an increase in crime.

Didn't we just go through the whole 1990's talking about this? In theory, once your addiction takes away all your money, possessions and job, you are turned to any way possible to find money. Therefore crime goes up. I don't see drugs on the top list of convictions. Sure, it's disproportionately high, but I don't see legalized drugs as the solution. What about DUI? People driving with marijuana in their system are insanely reckless people. I just can't trust that.

Perhaps I'm missing a point, and in some cases an understaffed police force may be spending too much time on drug crime. Legalizing drugs probably won't do much good in that respect, it will just worsen violent crime, which goes hand-in-hand with drugs. The preceding study just sounds like an excuse to hide behind a reason for legalizing pot, and throwing in an excuse that is too inflammatory.

And in other news, police arrest more people for public nuisance infractions than for marijuana crimes. More people are arrested for driving under the influence of intoxicants than for driving on a suspended license.

Oh, and did the statistics include any information about the unsolved cases? Cops only arrest the marijuana cases because they are easy to execute: pothead and pot are in the same car or boat. Cops have a harder time finding the perpetrators of the more violent stuff.

One could say, the "milder" the infraction, the more people will deviate from the law. Thus, it would be a big non-surprise if marijuana arrests outnumbered violent arrests.

In theory, once your addiction takes away all your money, possessions and job, you are turned to any way possible to find money.

This is true, however marijuana is not physically addictive, so the point is irrelevant.

I can give you a list of many studies that show the increase of drugs will lead to an increase in crime.

The only reason this is true is because drugs are illegal. Can you show me a study that shows the legalization of marijuana will lead to an increase in crime? Or even, one which proves that the legalization of cocaine, heroin, and crack (physically addictive drugs) would lead to an increase in crime (not that I'm necessarily encouraging that)? In fact, it would probably lead to a decrease in drug-related crimes if drugs were commercially available at reasonable, competitive prices.

The legalization of drugs in certain European countries has shown that the use of drugs will skyrocket at first when they are legalized, and then soon after drop well below levels before they were legalized. I've not read anything about crime levels, but one could only assume that once drugs are affordable, people won't need to commit crimes to get them.

The only reason marijuana is still illegal is because the US government doesn't want to lose the billions of dollars it gets in taxes to "fight the war on drugs", not to mention all the jobs that exist solely for that task.

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