FBI statistics from 2011 show that the War on Drugs is going strong, with more people arrested for drug crimes than anything else. U.S. police arrest someone for a marijuana crime every 42 seconds, and 87 percent of those are for mere possession. These numbers are slightly down from the last two years, but drug crimes still represent more than eight percent of all arrests.
“Even excluding the costs involved for later trying and then imprisoning these people, taxpayers are spending between one and a half to three billion dollars a year just on the police and court time involved in making these arrests,” said Neill Franklin, a retired Baltimore narcotics cop who now heads the group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). “That’s a lot of money to spend for a practice that four decades of unsuccessful policies have proved does nothing to reduce the consumption of drugs.” The group is urging passage of the three state ballot initiatives that would legalize and regulate marijuana in Washington, Colorado and Oregon.