The Konformist

December 2000

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2600 Virginia Avenue, NW, Suite 100

Washington DC 20037


For release: October 31, 2000


For additional information:

George Getz, Press Secretary

Phone: (202) 333-0008 Ext. 222



Police arrest more people for marijuana than murder, rape, and robbery combined

WASHINGTON, DC -- Police arrested more people last year on marijuana charges than for all violent crimes combined, according to new FBI figures -- a policy that endangers public safety by diverting police resources, Libertarians charge.

"The War on Marijuana Smokers is good news for brutal street thugs, but it's bad news for ordinary Americans," said Harry Browne, the Libertarian Party's presidential candidate. "Why? Because police are kept busy arresting non-violent pot smokers -- while our families, friends, and neighbors fall prey to murderers, rapists, and robbers."

According to the new FBI Uniform Crime Report, police arrested more people for non-violent marijuana offenses in 1999 than for murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault -- combined.

In all, 704,812 Americans were arrested last year on marijuana-relatedcharges, while only 635,990 people were arrested for the crimes of murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault.

"That means that in 704,812 instances last year, police spent their time and your money arresting and booking marijuana smokers instead of apprehending violent criminals," said Browne.

"So the next time you hear about a vicious murder in your community, ask yourself: Could the police have prevented this crime if they hadn't devoted uncounted millions of dollars and man-hours arresting those 704,812 people on marijuana charges over the past year?"

Of those arrested for marijuana offenses, 88% were charged with mere possession, noted Browne, and approximately 60,000 Americans are languishing in prison today on marijuana charges, according to the Marijuana Policy Project.

"Make no mistake: People do get sent to jail in America for simple marijuana possession," he said. "This is more proof that the War on Drugs has created a revolving door prison system. In goes the pot smoker; out comes the psychopathic killer, the kidnapper, or the child molester released on early parole."

Federal figures also show that a total of 4,175,357 people have been arrested on marijuana charges during the Clinton-Gore administration, even though President Clinton admitted he smoked marijuana "but didn't inhale" and Vice President Gore admits he smoked marijuana in his twenties.

"Mr. Clinton and Mr. Gore, would you be better men today if you had been thrown in jail for your youthful indiscretions?" asked Browne. "If not, how can you possibly justify throwing your fellow Americans in jail today for the same youthful indiscretions?"

Interestingly, the number of marijuana arrests is rising at the same time public support for the Drug War is falling, said Browne.

"FBI statistics show that 22,000 more people were arrested on marijuana charges in 1999 than in 1998," he said. "Yet marijuana-related initiatives are approved nearly every time they're put to a popular vote, and California's Proposition 36 -- which would eliminate prison terms for all non-violent drug offenses -- appears headed to victory as well.

"So while ordinary Americans see the futility of our current drug policies, politicians remain addicted to the War on Drugs and determined to arrest non-violent pot-smokers. That's why people who are victimized by murderers, rapists, and robbers are actually victimized twice: Once by street thugs, and once by the politicians who force police to waste their time arresting harmless pot-smokers as real criminals go free."

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