Now that the United States has celebrated its Independence and hard-earned freedom on July, 4th, it is important to remember that there is still much work to be done on many fronts, including the nation's cannabis laws federally and in many states. While great progress has been made across the country, too many people live in states with draconian laws and policies.
When it comes to cannabis arrests, not all states are created equal. Different states have different penalties. For instance, in Colorado and Washington possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is completely legal - no penalties. Colorado also allows cultivation of up to six plants. On the other end of the spectrum, a person can receive a life sentence for cannabis in states like Missouri, which is the case with Jeff Mizanskey right now.
States also vary in how often they arrest people for cannabis. Per an article by VOX:
New York, Illinois, and Maryland --- make the most arrests each year, along with deep-red Louisiana and Mississippi, according to a compilation of federal data...Even when controlling for how many marijuana users reportedly live within a state, arrests remained high in New York, Illinois, Maryland, Louisiana, and Mississippi.
Per 100,000 citizens, New York makes 1,080 cannabis arrests, Illinois makes 1,669, Maryland makes 493, Louisiana makes 513, and Mississippi makes 520. Compare that to Massachusetts which only makes 19 cannabis arrests per year for every 100,000 citizens. If you are in one of the states that has a high arrest rate, you should be very careful, and use this as motivation to fight for reform in your state.
Why do states arrest people for cannabis at all? Why aren't more states following in the footsteps of Colorado, which has seen a significant decrease in violent crime since implementing legalization in January? Why aren't all states ending cannabis arrests, saving tax payer dollars, focusing on real crime and allowing the next great industry to flourish? It's time for a new approach, state by state, until we are all free.