Even though steps are being made to decriminalize marijuana possession throughout the U.S. — tiny, baby steps (Colorado, you won the race on that one) — you’re still way more likely to get busted for possession in some states than others. Thanks to these handy maps from Addiction-Treatment.com, we now know what those states are, as well as how wary we should be while we’re in them.
The site compiled a whole lot of figures from two reputable sources — The FBI’s annual “Crime in the United States” report and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) National Survey on Drug Use and Health — and created a number of maps showing the rate of arrests for marijuana possession, DUIs, and illicit drugs. The short version is that the states where you’re least likely to get arrested for possession really don’t seem to care much about marijuana, while the states where you’re most likely to get arrested for it care so much about it it’s not even funny.
Here, take a look at this map, which shows how many arrests happen per 100,000 users:
New England states — namely Rhode Island, Vermont, and Massachusetts — don’t seem to be prioritizing marijuana enforcement; the number of arrests for crimes related to the drug are rather low indeed. I mean, Illinois has over 30,000 arrests per 100,000 users, while Massachusetts only has 275. Why? In a lot of New England, pot use isn’t a crime anymore. It’s a civil violation, kind of like getting a driving ticket. The upshot is that it frees up more time and resources to crack down on bigger fish: Said Vermont Governor Pete Shumlin when he signed a bill that decriminalized marijuana possession, “This legislation allows our courts and law enforcement to focus their limited resources more effectively to fight highly addictive opiates such as heroin and prescription drugs that are tearing apart families and communities.”
Meanwhile, though, plenty of other states have increased their marijuana enforcement efforts. First, there’s Illinois to consider — those 30,000 arrests mentioned previously make it the strictest state in the nation with regards to marijuana. Also consider that New York, which has the second-highest rate of related arrests, tallies up at 1 million hours spent arresting 440,000 people for minor marijuana possession offenses between 2002 and 2012. But apparently they're unconcerned with cracking down on all the people openly smoking pot on the street in the East Village?
Interestingly, though, the lists of strictest and least strict states don’t really tend to change when you shift from arrests per 100,000 users to arrests per 100,000 citizens:
The order shifts around a little bit, but we’re pretty much still looking at the same states. Interesting.
Right now, the Washington Post points out, marijuana is legal in two states, with moves to decriminalize it in happening in about a dozen more; I wonder if these maps might be used to predict which states will legalize it sooner than others? Time will tell, I suppose. In the meantime, though, watch your stash if you’re in Illinois or New York — the law won’t exactly be friendly there if you get found out. Maybe you should think about moving?
For more info, including that pertaining to binge drinking, DUIs, and illicit drugs, head on over to Addiction-Treatment.com.