Marijuana possession charges on the rise, FBI report says

As is the case in most states, marijuana is not legal in Texas. However, its legalization is a growing trend. Advocates for marijuana legalization are pointing to this trend in the wake of an FBI report released on Sept. 24 that indicates that more people were taken into custody for marijuana-related drug charges between 2016 and 2017.

In 2017, people were detained a total of 659,700 times for marijuana-related offenses. In 2016, that number was 653,249. Furthermore, the data showed that people taken into custody for marijuana sales and distribution was actually down. The increase was due to more people being detained for marijuana possession. In 2016, that number was 587,516 while it rose to 599,282 in 2017. For sales and distribution, the numbers dropped from 65,734 to 60,418.

A director for the Marijuana Policy Project pointed out that opioid deaths totaled more than 100 daily and questioned whether law enforcement resources were being used sensibly given the relative impact of the two drugs. The political director for the pro-marijuana advocacy group NORML said that one-fifth of the population resides in the states where marijuana is legal and that law enforcement should shift its focus. Drug-related detentions increased from 1.5 to 1.6 million in 2017, and well over one-third of those were for marijuana.

It is important that people do not make the assumption that charges for marijuana possession are not serious. Charges for possession of all types of illegal drugs may have consequences beyond legal penalties. For some people, an illegal drug charge on their record can affect their career path. Students who have been convicted of drug-related offenses may have access to some forms of financial aid for education blocked. There could be housing restrictions for some people. An attorney may be able to help a client work out a defense strategy.

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