Latest Drug War News

GoodShop: You Shop...We Give!

Shop online at and a percentage of each purchase will be donated to our cause! More than 600 top stores are participating!

The Internet Our Website

Global and National Events Calendar

Bottoms Up: Guide to Grassroots Activism

Prisons and Poisons

November Coalition Projects

Get on the Soapbox! with Soap for Change

November Coalition: We Have Issues!

November Coalition Local Scenes

November Coalition Multimedia Archive

The Razor Wire
Bring Back Federal Parole!
November Coalition: Our House

Stories from Behind The WALL

November Coalition: Nora's Blog

October 25, 2004 - NORML News Alert (US)

Marijuana Arrests For Year 2003 Hit Record High, FBI Report Reveals

Pot Smokers Arrested In America At A Rate Of One Every 42 Seconds

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive

Washington, DC: Police arrested an estimated 755,187 persons for marijuana violations in 2003, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's annual Uniform Crime Report, released today. The total is the highest ever recorded by the FBI, and comprised 45 percent of all drug arrests in the United States.

"These numbers belie the myth that police do not target and arrest minor marijuana offenders," said Keith Stroup, Executive Director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), who noted that at current rates, a marijuana smoker is arrested every 42 seconds in America. "This effort is a tremendous waste of criminal justice resources, costing American taxpayers approximately $7.6 billion dollars annually. These dollars would be better served combating serious and violent crime, including the war on terrorism."

Of those charged with marijuana violations, 88 percent ­ some 662,886 Americans ­ were charged with possession only. The remaining 92,301 individuals were charged with "sale/manufacture," a category that includes all cultivation offenses ­ even those where the marijuana was being grown for personal or medical use. In past years, approximately 30 percent of those arrested were age 19 or younger.

"Present policies have done little if anything to decrease marijuana's availability or dissuade youth from trying it," Stroup said, noting that a majority of young people now report that they have easier access to pot than alcohol or tobacco.

The total number of marijuana arrests for 2003 far exceeded the total number of arrests for all violent crimes combined, including murder, manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault.

Marijuana arrests for 2003 increased 8 percent from the previous year, and have nearly doubled since 1993.

"Arresting adults who smoke marijuana responsibly needlessly destroys the lives of tens of thousands of otherwise law abiding citizens each year," Stroup said.

In the past decade, more than 6.5 million Americans have been arrested on marijuana charges, more than the entire populations of Alaska, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming combined. Nearly 90 percent of these total arrests were for simple possession, not cultivation or sale. During much of this time, arrests for cocaine and heroin have declined sharply, indicating that increased enforcement of marijuana laws is being achieved at the expense of enforcing laws against the possession and trafficking of more dangerous drugs.

"Marijuana legalization would remove this behemoth financial burden from the criminal justice system, freeing up criminal justice resources to target other more serious crimes, and allowing law enforcement to focus on the highest echelons of hard-drug trafficking enterprises rather than on minor marijuana offenders who present no threat to public safety," Stroup said.

Later this fall, the NORML Foundation will be releasing a comprehensive report examining the nature, extent and costs of marijuana arrests in the United States. The report will feature state-by-state analysis of marijuana arrests by race, as well as an economic and geographic analysis of US marijuana arrests. Further information on NORML's forthcoming report is available by contacting the NORML Foundation at:


Marijuana Arrests:























For more information, please contact Keith Stroup or Paul Armentano of NORML at (202) 483-5500, or see

For the latest drug war news, visit our friends and allies below

We are careful not to duplicate the efforts of other organizations, and as a grassroots coalition of prisoners and social reformers, our resources (time and money) are limited. The vast expertise and scope of the various drug reform organizations will enable you to stay informed on the ever-changing, many-faceted aspects of the movement. Our colleagues in reform also give the latest drug war news. Please check their websites often.

The Drug Policy Alliance
Drug Reform Coordination Network
Drug Sense and The Media Awareness Project

Working to end drug war injustice

Meet the People Behind The U.S. Sentencing Guidelines

Questions or problems? Contact