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Marijuana busts on the rise despite increasing legalization

Several states have legalized marijuana for recreational use, although Texas is not one of them. Despite this, a new FBI report shows that marijuana busts are increasing across the nation.

According to the report, which was released on Sept. 24, U.S. law enforcement agencies arrest an average of one American every 48 seconds for alleged marijuana crimes. In 2017, that added up to 659,700 busts. In comparison, there were 653,249 busts in 2016. The report shows that almost 91 percent of those arrests were related to marijuana possession, not to pot growing operations or drug dealing. Meanwhile, arrests related to marijuana growing and dealing actually declined.

The increase in marijuana arrests occurred even as voters in California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada all passed measures to legalize pot use in 2016. A spokesperson for the Marijuana Policy Project said that it was "foolish" for police to keep making arrests over a drug that has never killed anyone when over 100 people are dying from opioid overdoses across the country each day. Marijuana busts accounted for 40.4 percent of all U.S. drug arrests in 2017.

Drug charges like marijuana possession can lead to serious consequences, including jail terms and significant fines. In addition, a drug conviction can leave defendants with a permanent criminal record, which can have numerous social consequences, including making it difficult to get a job. However, a criminal defense attorney could work to develop a solid defense against the accusations. In some circumstances, these efforts could eliminate or mitigate the charges.

Source: Forbes, "Marijuana Arrests Are Increasing Despite Legalization, New FBI Data Shows", Tom Angell, Sept. 24, 2018

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