The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol released a new analysis today showing that the vast majority of marijuana arrests in Michigan are for petty possession issues and are unconnected with other offenses. The analysis uses data from the FBI 2016 Crime in the United States report, the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Program and the National Incident-Based Reporting System.
Key findings include:
- 23,429 people were arrested on marijuana charges in 2016. 87% of arrests were for possession and 13% were for sales/distribution.
- 90 percent of possession arrests are for one ounce or less of marijuana
- 70 percent of possession arrests are for one quarter ounce (7 grams) or less of marijuana
- 45 percent of possession arrests are for one gram or less of marijuana
- Marijuana arrests have been declining nationwide, yet have increased steadily in Michigan since 1994.
- 82 percent of arrests are stand-alone events and only involve a single arrest record.
- African Americans in Michigan are 2.6 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana than whites. The racial disparity in arrests cannot be explained by differences in the prevalence of marijuana use.
“Michigan could fill Little Caesar’s Arena with the number of people arrested each year on marijuana possession charges, and 70 percent of those charges are just petty – a quarter ounce or less,” said campaign spokesperson Josh Hovey. “Voting yes on Proposal 1 will help redirect law enforcement resources – our tax dollars – to critical issues that truly impact the quality of life in our communities.”
Hovey also pointed to a recent study conducted by researchers at Washington State University indicating that clearance rates, or the number of cases solved, has improved significantly in both Washington and Colorado after those states ended marijuana prohibition.
The study was published in Police Quarterly and found that:
- Arrest rates for marijuana possession dropped almost 50 percent in Colorado and more than 50 percent in Washington.
- Violent crime clearance rates improved.
- Burglary and motor vehicle theft clearance rates “increased dramatically.”
- Property crime clearance rates reversed a downward trend and improved dramatically.
“We’ve known for a long time that legalization has helped Colorado and Washington generate hundreds of millions in new tax revenue each year,” said Hovey. “What this report makes clear is that ending marijuana prohibition also helps law enforcement agencies become more efficient by focusing on important issues rather than busting people for petty possession.”
The Marijuana Arrests in Michigan analysis was conducted by Shenandoah University Criminal Justice Professor Jon Gettman and paid for by the campaign.