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DEA Reports Ongoing Decline in Federal Pot Arrests

Data released by the Department of Justice shows that federal law enforcement makes fewer marijuana arrests. This is consistent with the recent cannabis laws.

According to the Justice Department’s report, cannabis arrests made by Drug Enforcement Administration officers between 2010 and 2020 showed a 11% decrease in marijuana-related incidents.

The arrests for crack cocaine declined by seven percent, while those for powder cocaine dropped six percent.

Raw numbers show that the DEA arrested 8,215 cannabis-related criminals in 2010 versus 2,576 in 2020. 

The number of arrests for pot related offenses decreased each year over that decade.

The cannabis reform advocacy group NORML also pointed to data from the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC), which reported that “federal convictions for marijuana-related activities have similarly declined over the past decade.”

“Marijuana law enforcement is becoming less of a federal priority in an age where the majority of Americans believe that cannabis ought to be legal,” NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said. “It is vital that Congress takes action to amend federal law in a manner that comports with this reality,” he continued.

The decrease in arrests for marijuana use coincided with a time in America when more cities and states have legalized recreational pot usage.

According to polls, there is broad support from both parties for legalizing cannabis.

However, cannabis is still illegal at the federal level due to its status under the Controlled Substances Act.

There is some hope for legalization to finally become a national issue with Democrats ruling Congress and the executive.

The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement Act (MORE) was passed by the Democrats in the House of Representatives in April. This measure would have removed pot from the Controlled Substances Act.

The Senate Democrats have indicated that they would offer their own legalization legislation. This was originally supposed to occur by April 30, but Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer stated later that it will most likely happen before August’s congressional recess.

Schumer is open about his desire for a legalization bill.

Last year, he said that the party was eager to move on the issue, despite President Joe Biden’s own misgivings about ending prohibition.

“We will move forward,” Schumer said at the time. “[Biden] said he’s studying the issue, so [I]He will appreciate a bit of time for it to be read. As many advocates, I will also present my points to him. But at some point we’re going to move forward, period.”

“In 2018, I was the first member of the Democratic leadership to come out in support of ending the federal prohibition. I’m sure you ask, ‘Well what changed?’ Well, my thinking evolved. When a few of the early states—Oregon and Colorado—wanted to legalize, all the opponents talked about the parade of horribles: Crime would go up. The drug use will increase. Everything bad would happen,” he added. “The legalization of states worked out remarkably well. They proved to be a huge success. They were a great success. The parade of the horribles did not happen, so people had more freedom. And people in those states seem very happy.”

There were other notable takeaways in the report from the Department of Justice, which noted that “U.S. marshals made 120,112 arrests [in Fiscal Year 2020], a 42% decrease from the 206,630 bookings in FY 2019.”

The report also said that the “coronavirus pandemic drove an 81% decline in arrests and 77% decline in cases charged from March to April 2020,” and that of “the 26,696 Drug Enforcement Administration arrests in FY 2020, the most common drug type involved was methamphetamine (8,783 arrests), followed by powder cocaine (4,474 arrests).”