Texas law enforcement make more annual marijuana arrests than do police in any other state, according to newly reported arrest data compiled by Jon Gettman, associate professor of criminal justice at Shenandoah University.
Of the nearly 531,000 marijuana arrests reported to the FBI in 2016, the most recent year for which data is available, an estimated 12 percent of arrests occurred in Texas. (Marijuana arrest data for the states of Florida, Illinois, and Washington, DC were not reported that year.) Six addition states – Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Virginia – also reported 20,000+ marijuana arrests in 2016. Here is a look at the top 5 states on this list.
Texas has long been the statewide leader in marijuana arrests and 2016 was no exception. Police made 64,949 cannabis-related arrests that year, 98 percent of which were for simple possession. Under state law, all of these offenders face up to 180 days in jail, a $2,000 fine, and a lifelong criminal record.
Lawmakers in 2017 introduced legislation seeking to decriminalize minor marijuana possession offenses, but members of the House of Representative failed to hold a vote on the issue. As a result of this inaction, DA’s in various Texas cities, like Houston and San Antonio, have recently enacted municipal ‘cite-and-release’ programs. Under these local policies, defendants who