CannaBeat: Marijuana Arrests Up, Memphis NORML Petition, and Midtown Reeks 

A look at cannabis in Memphis and the state.

Marijuana arrests rose for the third consecutive year in 2018, according to new data released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Police made 663,367 arrests for marijuana-related violations last year, according to the FBI's Uniform Crime Report. The National Organization for the Reformation of Marijuana Laws (NORML) said that number is 21 percent higher than the total number of people arrested for violent crimes (521,103). The organization noted that 90 percent of those arrested on marijuana charges were arrested for possession charges only.

"Police across America make a marijuana-related arrest every 48 seconds," NORML executive director Erik Altieri said in a statement. "At a time when the overwhelming majority of Americans want cannabis to be legal and regulated, it is an outrage that many police departments across the country continue to waste tax dollars and limited law enforcement resources on arresting otherwise law-abiding citizens for simple marijuana possession."

click to enlarge cannabeat_10_17_19_memphisnorml.jpg

The climbing number of marijuana arrests reverses a trend of falling arrests that began in 2007, when police made a record 872,721 arrests on marijuana-related charges in the U.S. The increase also comes as more states have legalized the recreational use of cannabis for adults.

Meanwhile, a new report published in the journal Justice Quarterly said crime does not increase in states with legalized cannabis.

Researchers with the Department of Justice and Criminology at Washington State University reviewed crime rates in Colorado and Washington after cannabis legalization.

"Marijuana legalization and sales have had minimal to no effect on major crimes in Colorado or Washington," reads the report. "We observed no statistically significant long-term effects of recreational cannabis laws or the initiation of retail sales on violent or property crime rates in these states."

Tennessee Petition

Memphis NORML launched a petition recently on that the group hopes it can share with state lawmakers to show people "want and really need medical cannabis in Tennessee."

"Tennessee lawmakers say they don't believe there is enough support to even vote on the medical cannabis bills that keep getting presented," reads the petition. "We need to show them how many people, the people they are supposed to represent, really want and need medical cannabis in Tennessee."

David Youngman signed the petition because he said cannabis can complement cancer treatment, noting that two of his aunts died from cancer.

"If pot can help even just a tiny little bit, then anyone keeping it from them is the true criminal," Youngman wrote.

Marijuana is Midtown

While marijuana may not yet be relaxed in the law books, maybe it already is in the streets. A Nextdoor user said "the strong odor of marijuana is now ubiquitous in Midtown" in a post on the social networking service last week.

"Some people are apparently oblivious to how much they reek," he wrote. "It's in stores, on sidewalks, at traffic intersections. It rolls out of car windows of parents waiting to pick their kids up at the elementary school in front of my house. I wonder how many kids go to school with a contact high."

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