4/20, Marijuana, and Drug Courts: What’s the Connection?
Today is 4/20, and if you’re reading this, you probably don’t need to be reminded of what that means. What IS worth noting, however, is just how much the perception of this day, and marijuana in general, has changed in recent years.
What is also worth noting is that, despite today’s increasingly permissive attitude toward marijuana use, yesterday’s casualties are still being affected by harsh jail sentences. Even as more and more states legalize medicinal and recreational use, it’s still illegal at the federal level.
This disconnect turns “users” into “offenders” and puts many who enjoy legal protections within their state vulnerable to federal sentencing and incarceration.
Marijuana Arrests and Impact by the Numbers
Although marijuana arrests have diminished in recent years, they still comprise a large portion of overall drug arrests. Data from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) indicates:
- Over 13.1 million Americans have been busted for marijuana from 2001 to 2020.
- Marijuana arrests accounted for over 40 percent of all drug arrests in 2018.
- A Black person is 3.64 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than a White person, despite similar rates of use.
- Over 89 percent of marijuana arrests are for possession only.
Even in states where weed has been made legal or decriminalized, racial disparities persist, creating a disproportionate legacy of instability and hardship among already marginalized populations.
Why The Past Matters
While marijuana arrests have dropped precipitously and are heading toward an even steeper decline, over 40,000 Americans are currently incarcerated for cannabis-related convictions. Many of these individuals are doing time for offenses that, today, would have been a slap on the wrist or worst.
In addition to highlighting the glaring disparities between the past and present in marijuana policy, American marijuana incarceration rates also illustrate the importance of resources that allow low-level offenders to seek treatment as an alternative to jail time.
Drug Courts: Guiding People into Treatment and Away from Jail
As substance abuse across the board continues to increase in the United States, It’s more important than ever that those who are impacted have the means to seek help rather than incarceration. Drug Court programs have emerged as an increasingly common resource for eligible users who are looking to get a fresh start in treatment. Recovery Unplugged offers comprehensive drug court navigation services to help you or your loved one get the fresh start you need and deserve. If you’re facing legal issues related to drug or alcohol abuse, our team may be able to help you navigate the drug court resources in your area to stay compliant in your program and either minimize or reduce jail time. Contact us to start treatment and recovery.