Drug Abuse Statistics

Drug and Possession charges in the United States

Drug and Possession charges in the United States are serious.  The criminal justice system in the Unites States has various mechanisms in place which determine the type of charge which an offender is given. One common type of charge is called refers to possession charges. A possession charge, otherwise called unlawful possession, can be given when a person is suspected to carry a legal weapon or substance. This may refer to drugs, weapons or stolen goods. The level or severity of the charge may depend on the amount of substance which is unlawfully in the possession of the apprehended individual. Likewise, it may depend on the type of substance or weapon which the individual possesses.

Drug possession charges

A drug possession charge is one of the most common types of possession charges. According to the FBI drug abuse statistics the greatest number of arrests were for drug offenses (about 1,531,251 arrests). The US justice system makes a distinction between drug related possession charges and drug possession for sale charges. This is often determined based on the quantity of drugs that the arrestee has. If it is small amount law enforcement may determine that it was for personal use and therefore give a drug possession charge. However, an individual who has a large amount of drugs is more likely to be charged with drug distribution/ delivery. This may also be referred to as drug trafficking.

There are a myriad of illegal drugs which if caught in your possession may result in being arrested and subsequently charged. These drugs include the following:

  • Marijuana: This drug comes from the hemp plant and has THC components/ properties. It is often ingested in food products but is most often used through smoking. It can produce a euphoric feeling in those who use it. Marijuana can also heighten an individual’s sense of taste, sight and hearing. However, it also has negative effects such as reduced coordination and a decline in energy as well as delirium or paranoia.
  • Heroine: This drug is derived from the opium plant. It is most commonly produced in Afghanistan and Mexico. It produces a feeling of euphoria or “high”. However, it has serious long term effects. These include liver impairment, infection of the heart and abscesses.
  • Methamphetamines (meth/ crystal meth): This highly addictive stimulant is a man-made substance. It can be used in various ways through injection, inhalation or smoking. It may lead to heart disease, psychosis and death.

Marijuana possession charges

With the exception of tobacco and alcohol, marijuana is the most commonly used substance in the United States. According the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), marijuana possession accounts for % of total drug arrests. The 2013 report entitled “The War on Marijuana in Black and White” sheds even more light on the situation. According to this report, marijuana arrests account for 52% of all drug arrests. This report highlights that there were more than 8 million marijuana related drug arrests between 2001 and 2010. This is an astounding figure. However, even more outstanding is the fact that 88% of these arrests were due to marijuana arrests.

Another astounding statistic in this report stated that marijuana possession accounted for 46% of drug arrests nationwide. This figure highlights that marijuana possession is a serious problem within the justice system. It is a staggeringly serious issue especial for certain states. This includes New York, Texas, Florida, California and Illinois which ranked as the top five states with the highest possession of marijuana charges/arrests.

The states with the highest marijuana arrest rates include New York, Nebraska and Maryland. All of these states have a rate that exceeds the national average. One may also conclude that the states are spending an enormous proportion of state budget due to these arrests. For instance, did you know that the total amount of money spend by states to enforce cannabis laws was $3.6 billion in 2010 alone?

Effects of a drug possession charge on arrestees

A drug possession charge can have adverse effects on an arrestee. Firstly, note that once a person is arrested detailing pertaining to the arrest become public property. These records may be accessed through law enforcement criminal databases. These can easily be accessed by employers, loaners, schools and other important individuals or institutions. Since a drug arrest record often is discriminated against, those who have such records are less likely to get a job or other opportunities.

One cannot talk about the effects of drug charges without mentioning a prison sentence. In some states drug possession offenses may result in a fine. However, states with stricter laws may enforce stricter sanctions. For instance, in Texas a person who is found in the possession of marijuana can be charged with a felony, resulting in several years’ imprisonment. This may occur if the individual had between 5-5,000 lbs of marijuana.

About the author

Jeremy Brooks