Marijuana-Related Arrests Decrease Sharply Nationwide in 2020, But Not in Pennsylvania | News | Pittsburgh

The The FBI released its crime statistics for 2020 late last month, noting that the nation saw a 36% drop in marijuana-related arrests from 2019. This contrasts with marijuana-related violations in Pennsylvania, which saw a 7% drop in 2020 compared to 2019.

In the FBI Uniform Crime Report, police estimated that more than 350,000 arrests were reported for marijuana-related offenses last year, down from 545,602 marijuana-related arrests in 2019.

In a press release from the cannabis advocacy group NORML, the group says 91% of marijuana-related arrests nationwide were reported as possession of marijuana offenses. Overall, the FBI report said marijuana-related arrests made up about 30% of all drug-related arrests in the United States in 2020.

Several states in the United States legalized cannabis for adult use in 2020, but many of their laws were not yet operational that year. Pennsylvania’s medical cannabis law came into effect in 2018, but the Commonwealth has not legalized recreational cannabis.

“As more states move towards sensible policy of legalizing and regulating cannabis, we are seeing a decline in arrests of non-violent marijuana users nationwide,” said the executive director of NORML, Erik Altieri, in a press release. “The fight for legalization is a fight for justice. While these numbers represent a historic drop in arrests, even one person handcuffed for simple possession of marijuana is too many. ”

This nationwide decrease was in stark contrast to Pennsylvania, which only saw a 7% drop in marijuana-related arrests in 2020, even though small amounts of marijuana were decriminalized in several of the larger cities. of Pennsylvania, including Pittsburgh.

According to Pennsylvania State Police data compiled by NORML, 20,200 adults were arrested for marijuana-related offenses in the Commonwealth in 2020. That’s up from 21,789 in 2019, according to the Philadelphia Investigator.

Pittsburgh passed a law to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana in 2015, but there are signs that haven’t led to a big decrease in marijuana-related arrests in the city. In 2017, Pittsburgh Police made 772 arrests for possession of marijuana in adults and 735 arrests for possession of marijuana in adults in 2018.

Under 35 Pa. Codified Laws Section 780-113 annotated, paragraphs (a) (16) and (a) (31). Sub-section (a) (31), Pennsylvanians can be charged with offenses for possession of large or small amounts of marijuana, which means that a person possessing or distributing, but not selling, 30 grams of marijuana or 8 grams hashish can be charged and could face up to 30 days in prison or a fine of up to $ 500.

For Pittsburgh, however, city police officers can issue citations for small amounts of possession in lieu of misdemeanors. However, some officers still charge people for offenses under subsection (a) (31).

“Marijuana should not be used as an excuse for law enforcement to interact with otherwise law-abiding members of the public, especially during a global pandemic,” said Carly Wolf, head of state policy for the United States. NORML. Press release. “Pennsylvania’s current marijuana ban infringes on civil liberties and has a disproportionate impact on communities of color. It is time for lawmakers to act so that marijuana users are no longer treated like second-class citizens.

Marijuana-related arrests also have a disproportionate impact on black Pennsylvanians. Although blacks make up 12% of Pennsylvania’s population, 32% of marijuana arrests in the state in 2020 were blacks, according to NORML. Black residents are about 3.5 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana in Pennsylvania than their white counterparts.

On September 28, State Representatives Jake Wheatley (D-Hill District) and Dan Frankel (D-Squirrel Hill) introduced a bill to legalize the recreational use of marijuana by adults in Pennsylvania. If approved, the bill would allow anyone 21 years of age and over to purchase and consume marijuana recreationally in Pennsylvania and allow direct participation in the cannabis industry for individuals in communities. on which the criminalization of marijuana has had a disproportionate impact.

“The failures of past cannabis policies have resulted in the worst possible worlds: insufficient public health protection, aggressive enforcement that disproportionately harms communities of color and zero income for this Commonwealth,” Frankel said. in a press release. “With this legislation, Pennsylvania can begin to right the historic damage and reap the benefits of an evidence-based approach to regulating the cultivation, trade, and use of cannabis for adults over the age of 21.”

Comments are closed.