In July of this year, recreational marijuana use was legalized in the State of Washington. This is big news, as Washington became only the second state after Colorado to enact such a law. While there are many reasons that people have supported the passage of this law, one large goal was to reduce the number of marijuana related arrests.
The Washington Post recently published an article that talks about the rise in marijuana related arrests that has taken place in the United Statas in the past two decades. The article, titled “The share of arrests for marijuana possession has more than tripled since 1991”, states that arrests for nonviolent marijuana related offenses has continued to increase over the years. The author states:
In absolute terms the number of marijuana possession arrests has more than doubled since 1991, although it has subsided slightly in recent years. But the percent of all arrests related to marijuana possession has steadily risen even as public attitudes toward the drug have shifted, states have relaxed their marijuana laws, and new research has come to light thoroughly debunking the Reefer Madness mindset of earlier decades.
In 20112, about 658,000 arrests were made for marijuana possession. The author writes that, according to FBI Data, this accounts for 5.4% of total arrests and a whopping 42% of all drug arrest made in the U.S. While some may think that this enforcement is useful, the article also discusses the impact of marijuana enforcement on usage. It found that there is little difference in usage between states that heavily enforce marijuana possession laws like New York and states like Massachusetts that do not strongly enforce these laws.
Now that recreational marijuana is legal in Washington, police may shift focus to other types of drug possession. A drug arrest can be difficult to fight and a conviction can lead to fines, probation and even jail time. Plus, a conviction on your record could affect your ability to get a job, get accepted to schools and find housing. It is vital for anyone who has been convicted of a drug crime in Washington to contact a defense lawyer right away in order to fight their charges and protect their record.