A new report finds vast amounts of police resources and taxpayer dollars are being used to arrest non-violent marijuana users nationwide.
The report, released today by the American Civil Liberties Union, found that, in 2010, a person was arrested for a marijuana-related charge every 41 seconds.
"The aggressive policing of marijuana is time-consuming, costly, racially biased, and doesn't work," Ezekiel Edwards, director of the ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project, said in a press release accompanying the report.
Edwards noted that "when people are arrested for possessing even tiny amounts of marijuana, they can be disqualified from public housing or student financial aid, lose or find it more difficult to obtain employment, lose custody of their child, or be deported."
The report, based on data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program and the U.S. Census, found that, between 2001 and 2010, there were 8.2 million marijuana arrests, "88 percent of which were for possession."
Pot arrests comprised 50 percent of all drug arrests in the U.S. in that same time period.
Pot arrests cost taxpayers a lot of green. In 2010 alone, the report said, "states spent a combined total of over $3.6 billion enforcing marijuana possession laws."
The ACLU also found that African-Americans were four times more likely than whites to be arrested for possession, despite the fact that both groups report using the drug at about the same rate.
"The war on marijuana has disproportionately been a war on people of color," Edwards said in the release. "State and local governments have aggressively enforced marijuana laws selectively against Black people and communities, needlessly ensnaring hundreds of thousands of people in the criminal justice system at tremendous human and financial cost."
The report comes three months after another analysis found that, in New York City alone, cops spent 1 million man hours making 440,000 pot possession arrests over the last decade.
An FBI spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment.
The ACLU is calling "for states to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana."
Doing so, the release notes, would "allow [states] to save millions of dollars currently spent on enforcement while raising millions more in revenue – money that can be invested in community and public health programs, including drug treatment."