Even with legalization spreading across the country, a full 45% of drug seizure offenses in 2021 involved cannabis products, according to data from the FBI’s National Incident-Based Reporting System.
According to the data, as first noted by NORML, the agency reported 885,509 crimes in 2021 involving the seizure of a controlled substance, including 395,675 that involved marijuana and another 4,665 involving hashish. Marijuana was far and away the most seized substance, with meth/amphetamines coming in second at 273,928.
“At a time when voters and their elected officials nationwide are re-evaluating state and federal marijuana policies, it is inconceivable that government agencies are unable to produce any explicit data on the estimated costs and scope of marijuana prohibition in America,” NORML deputy director Paul Armentano said in a press release about the report.
However, despite the still-large overall number, the FBI notes “The volume of drug-related offenses increased compared to 2020 in every category except for marijuana/hashish.”
Additional data showed police made 170,856 marijuana-related arrests in 2021, which NORML said is “most likely a significant underestimate” because law enforcement agencies representing more than one-third of Americans failed o report data in 2021. For example, 350,150 arrests were made in 2020, according to the 2021 report, down from more than 545,000 the year before.
Data inconsistencies are due to a change in the way agencies report data to the federal government and the FBI did not reach its goal of having 75% of law enforcement agencies enrolled in the new program. The overall effect is sometimes conflicting or confusing numbers throughout the available tables, depending on whether one searches for “drug/narcotic offenses” or “drug abuse violations” or the seizure numbers.
— Brian Beckley