A Resource Center for the Defense of Federal Marijuana Cases

Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the world.

About 750,000 people are arrested for marijuana each year, according to the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). Marijuana law violations comprise 48% of all drug-related arrests in the United States. Possession comprises almost 90% of all marijuana arrests.

Racial minorities are overrepresented among drug arrests. The United States' initial marijuana prohibition laws in the 1910s and 20s were directed at African Americans and Mexican immigrants. Around that time, the term "marihuana" became more widely used to describe the plant Cannabis sativa, in order to draw a stronger association with Spanish-speakers, who have since been targeted by America's racialized criminal justice system. Black jazz musicians who smoked "reefer" were also common targets.

Blacks are are 3.7 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana than are whites, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) — despite that blacks and whites use marijuana at roughly the same rates. This disparity widens in certain regions of the country, such as New York City and Cook, Illinois, where blacks are up to 30 times more likely to be arrested than are whites.

Enforcing marijuana prohibition laws costs around $3.6 billion a year; marijuana continues to be widely used and available.

According to Pew Research, 49% of Americans have at least tried marijuana. The DPA reports no evidence that medical marijuana laws have increased the rates of teen use; rather, in most states that have implemented a medical program, teen use has decreased. In those states, the "taboo" of marijuana has been partially lifted.


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Federal Marijuana Defense

148 East 78th Street, New York, NY 10075

Published by the Law Offices of Joseph A. Bondy​