NEWS FROM THE LIBERTARIAN PARTY
2600 Virginia Avenue, NW, Suite 100
Washington DC 20037
World Wide Web: http://www.LP.org
For release: October 31, 2000
For additional information:
George Getz, Press Secretary
Phone: (202) 333-0008 Ext. 222
more people for marijuana
, and robbery
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-
related charges, 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
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."