Although New Jersey is getting closer to legalizing cannabis more than ever, the state has the highest arrest rate for marijuana of all other states in the country--besides Wyoming, according to a recent report.
Jon Gettman, a criminal justice professor at Shenandoah University (Virginia), obtained arrest data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting program to assess cannabis arrests by state. Aside from having the second highest arrest rate in 2016, the analysis shows that New Jersey was third in the nation in total marijuana arrests that same year. Approximately 35,700 people were arrested in New Jersey for either possession or distribution of pot.
Gettman credited the high rate of arrests to increased police activity in the state. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, New Jersey has some of the highest numbers of law enforcement officers per capita in the nation.
The following are the actual numbers of the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting program regarding New Jersey cannabis arrests in 2016:
- Possession arrests - 32,263
- Distribution arrests - 3,437
- Arrest rate (per 100,000 people) - 400.4
Phil Murphy, the state’s newly elected governor, ran on a pot legalization platform. He pledged to legalize the plant for those 21 years of age or older.
Furthermore, newly-appointed Attorney General Gurbir Grewal informed the state Senate Budget Committee that legalizing recreational weed would pose challenges to police and that authorities were already preparing for the new law to be enacted. For instance, he said that New Jersey already has 400 officers trained as “drug recognition experts” in order to spot drivers who are under the influence of marijuana or other drugs.
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