Pot hasn't become more illegal in the last 25 years, but the number of people getting arrested for marijuana in Washington State has nearly tripled, according to a new study by three East Cost academics. That's a growth rate far greater than the population. In that same time, according to US Census data, the population has risen only about 50 percent, from about 4.4 million to roughly 6.8 million people.
Here's the report, which includes incredible stats on the counties with the highest rate of pot arrests, the costs involved, and demographics of who's getting busted. Needless to say, racial minorities are being arrested much more, despite using marijuana less.
A few highlights:
Marijuana possession arrests in Washington State rose sharply over the past 25 years, from 4,000 in 1986 to 11,000 in 2010, totaling 240,000 arrests.
In the five years from 1986 to 1990, Washington police made 24,000 low-level possession arrests. Twenty years later, from 2006 to 2010, police made 67,600 marijuana possession arrests, almost three times as many.
Though young African Americans and Latinos use marijuana at lower rates than young whites, in the last ten years police in Washington arrested African Americans at 2.9 times the rate of whites, and they arrested Latinos and Native Americans at 1.6 times the rate of whites.
Meanwhile, the Washington State Budget and Policy Center announced today that passing Initiative 502—to legalize and tax marijuana—will, first of all, "generate up to $530 million per in new tax resources for important public investments."
- Washington State Budget and Policy Center
Here's the Center's breakdown of the financial benefits of ending all those damn arrests and taxing the shit instead.