Cannabis advocates would dare say that 2019 has been a banner year in the realm of pot reform. Many boast about how the legal cannabis trade is, depending on which analysis we choose to listen to this week, on the verge of becoming a mega-billion dollar business sector that employs hundreds of thousands of workers, cures the incurable, helps us get to Mars and perhaps, if we’re really lucky, absolves us of all of our sins and puts us at the front of the line with the masters of the universe.
But the one aspect of legal cannabis that no one is really talking about much anymore is, even though over half the country has some sort of cannabis law on the books, more people are now being dragged to jail for pot possession and enduring other hardships as a result of a prohibition standard than in the past decade. So, has America really made any significant progress on this issue?
The United States was doing an admirable job cutting back on pot arrests for a while. Crime data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) shows that busts for buds were on a decline for right around nine years. But it wasn’t like this was supernatural or anything. Law enforcement was simply making fewer arrests for weed-related crimes because of legalization and decriminalization efforts unfolding in more parts of the country. It was a trend that advocates predicted would continue its downward spiral, too. However, something nasty happened while we weren’t looking.
The latest FBI crime report shows that cops across the U.S. busted more people for pot possession in 2018 than in the past couple of years. In fact, drug arrests have increased overall for the past 30 years, according to a recent report from the New York Times. So if you thought that just because millions of people can now buy weed legally from a dispensary that it means the drug war is officially over, think again. Well over a half million people went to jail last year for weed. What’s more, is this increase is not attributed to the cartels. The majority of these arrests were people caught with small amounts of marijuana. Yes sir, petty pot crime is still jamming us up.
Even in states where marijuana has been legalized, police forces are doing their best to crack the skulls of as many potheads as possible before retail sales get underway. In Illinois, not