Since the state-by-state legalization of pot gained momentum, the confusion between state and federal law has grown exponentially.
The October announcement by President Joe Biden that those convicted at the federal level of possession crimes will be pardoned. Those previously convicted now have better chances of finding jobs and housing. Many will now be able to register to vote.
While welcome news, the move does little for the hundreds of thousands of Americans already convicted at the state level.
The FBI’s Crime Data Explorer explores crime statistics through the Uniform Crime Reporting Program. It reveals that state and local law enforcement agencies reported more than 170,000 arrests for pot possession in 2021, a reduction from over 226,000 in 2020. Not all lead to convictions or prison time.
New York ranked second, and New Jersey came in third when it comes to contributors to the nation’s total at the end of 2020. After both states legalized recreational cannabis, the following year ended at 783 total arrests, a significant reduction from the 19,000 in 2020.
When looking at population proportion, Idaho saw the highest rate of reported arrests at 231 per 100,000 state residents. North Dakota ranked second with 227 per 100,000. Louisiana came in at 203.
The trend of legalization of recreational pot continues, with five states pushing ballot initiatives next month with states that include North and South Dakota, Maryland, Missouri, and Arkansas. Many are predicting that residents in all five states will likely pass.