Just a Slap on the Wrist? The Life-Changing Consequences of a Marijuana Arrest

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January 12, 2015

Marijuana arrests are the engine driving the U.S. war on drugs. In 2013, there were 693,482 marijuana arrests in the U.S. – more than 45 percent of all drug arrests. Nearly 88 percent of these arrests were for simple possession, not sale or manufacture. Black and Latino people are arrested at vastly disproportionate rates, even though white people use and sell marijuana at similar rates. A marijuana arrest is no small matter – the arrest creates a permanent criminal record that can easily be found by employers, landlords, schools, credit agencies and banks. Additionally, the huge number of marijuana arrests every year usurps scarce law enforcement, criminal justice and treatment resources at enormous cost to taxpayers.

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