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   Global Cannabis Statistics 


Listed are some cannabis statistics on a variety of issues. In the US and other countries, the people and communities negatively impacted by the criminaliztion and prohibition of cannabis can be seen in a variety of ways. Here are just a few:



• “The major benefit of decriminalization, in addition to eliminating the needless arrest, prosecution, and court disposition of over 700,000 people each year, would be the ability of the criminal justice system to focus on more important public safety activities.”(1) 

• Marijuana arrests now comprise one-half (49.8 percent) of all drug arrests reported in the United States. In 2008, 847,864 individuals were arrested on marijuana-related charges.(2) 

• A 2005 study from Harvard University concludes that the government spends $7.7 billion annually on cannabis prohibition.(3) 

• Based on economic research regarding cannabis prohibition, over 530 distinguished economists signed an open letter to President Bush urging the legalization of cannabis in 2005.(4) 

• “Marijuana arrests are not evenly distributed across the population, but are disproportionately imposed on African Americans.”(5) 

• African Americans are more than twice as likely as whites to be arrested on cannabis-related charges,(6) despite higher usage among whites.(7)

• In California, during 2002, African Americans were arrested for possession at a rate of 391 per 100,000 compared to 134 per 100,000 for whites.(8) 

• Other studies conclude that African Americans as compared to whites are arrested at a 5:1 ratio on marijuana sales charges in California.(9) 

• For the last ten years, New York City has arrested on average about 14 whites, 28 Hispanics, and 56 Blacks each day for marijuana.(10) 

• In New York City, it was found that 83 percent of those charged in lowest-level misdemeanor marijuana offense cases were black or Latino. Blacks accounted for 52 percent of the arrests, twice their share of the city’s population, while whites (who are about 35 percent of the population) were only 15 percent of those charged — despite federal surveys showing that whites are more likely than blacks or Latinos to use marijuana.(11) 

• Seriously ill individuals using cannabis on the recommendation from their doctors to treat illnesses such as cancer, AIDS, and multiple sclerosis, are at risk of arrest and imprisonment, simply for trying to alleviate pain or stimulate appetite.



Graph: New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (NYDCJS),Computerized Criminal History System (April 2008)
1 Austin, James, Ph.D. “Rethinking the Consequences of Decriminalizing Marijuana.” The JFA Institute, Washington, DC. 2 November 2005.
2 “Pot Arrests Now Comprise One-Half of All US Drug Arrests.” The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, 14 September 2009.
3 Miron, Jeffrey A. “The Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition.” Harvard University: Cambride, Massachusetts. June 2005: pp. 2 – 3.
4 Friedman, Milton, et. al. Open letter to the President, Congress, Governors, and State Legislators.
5 Beckett, Katherine and Herbert Steven. The Consequences and Costs of Marijuana Prohibition. University of Washington: Seattle. 2009.
6 Gettman, Jon B., Ph.D. United States Marijuana Arrests, Part Two: Racial Differences in Drug Arrests. The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws: Washington D.C. 2000.
7 Dwyer, Jim. “Whites Smoke Pot, but Blacks Are Arrested.” New York Times, 22 December 2009. 
8 “California Arrest Statistics – 2002: From National NORML Report “Crimes of Indiscretion: Marijuana Arrests in the United States.” March 2005.
9 Ibid.
10 New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (NYDCJS), Computerized Criminal History System
11 Dwyer, Jim. “On Arrests, Demographics, and Marijuana.” New York Times, 30 April 2008.


* some content SparcSF

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