Most U.S. drug arrests still involve marijuana possession

| Jan 24, 2020 | Drug Crimes |

Despite a steadily growing list of states that have decriminalized small amounts of marijuana or legalized its recreational use, police officers across the country arrest more people over marijuana offenses than any other drug.

The Pew Research Center studied FBI data showing that 663,000 arrests were made for marijuana-related offenses in the United States in 2018, amounting to four out of every 10 of the 1.6 million drug arrests made that year.

FBI data classifies drug arrests in four categories

The FBI says that of the more than 660,000 marijuana-related arrests, 92% were for possession, while 8% were for crimes related to the sale or manufacture of the drug. The agency’s 2018 results rank drug arrests in four categories:

  • 40%: Marijuana-related offenses
  • 29%: Listed only as “other” drugs
  • 25%: Arrests involving heroin, cocaine or derivatives
  • 6%: Synthetic or manufactured drugs

Marijuana remains illegal in all forms in Tennessee

The Volunteer State is one of 17 states which do not allow either the recreational or medical use of marijuana. Unlike other states which have moved to legalize its use, Tennessee does not have a voter initiative process, meaning that only elected officials can change laws.

Two state lawmakers plan to introduce the Tennessee Medical Cannabis Act during the 2020 legislative session, which began Jan 14. The act would allow the medicinal use of marijuana to treat about 20 medical conditions, including cancer, chronic pain, seizures, PTSD and opioid addiction.

Drug offenses have potentially serious consequences

Despite the debate over medical marijuana, there is no such thing as a “minor” drug offense in Tennessee. Even a first-offense marijuana possession conviction can result in one year in jail and a fine of $250 to $2,500. If you are charged, an experienced criminal defense attorney will protect your rights and help you avoid the negative effects a conviction can have on your life.