Weed Watch

Pot Arrests Reach New High

According to new crime statistics released last week by the FBI, arrests for marijuana possession reached a record high in 2005, which saw nearly 800,000 marijuana-related arrests nationwide. About 88% of those were for simple possession; the remaining people – just over 90,000 – were charged with sale and/or manufacturing, a category that includes people busted for growing pot for medicinal use. Indeed, says Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, the arrest numbers have increased steadily over the last decade, as the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy – home of the nation's drug czar and the brain trust behind the failed anti-drug media – has increasingly focused on maintaining its always-losing pot prohibition. "People are running around with meth mouth and out of their minds, and we're focusing on marijuana," St. Pierre said. "There are [law enforcement agencies] all over the country going bonkers over their meth problems, and yet the ONDCP shoves money at them … to go look for ditchweed." Using the current arrest numbers as a guide, St. Pierre figures that a pot smoker is arrested every 40 seconds – "it's just a totally skewed priority," he said.

Coincidentally, also on Sept. 18, just hours after the FBI released its latest arrest figures, the 40-second spotlight shone on Willie Nelson, who was ticketed for having a pound and a half of pot and several ounces of psychedelic mushrooms on board his tour bus. Reportedly, Nelson's bus was traveling down I-10 outside Lafayette, La., on Monday when he was pulled over for a routine – ahem – commercial vehicle inspection. When the bus door opened, the officer smelled pot and began a search of the bus. While anyone else caught with that amount of pot and 'shrooms would've been carted off to the pokey faster than you can say, "Whiskey River," Nelson and three others, including his sister, slid through with misdemeanor tickets – but not before local officers hightailed it over to the bus, a source tells the Chronicle, to get their pictures taken with the Red Headed Stranger. Perhaps that's punishment enough.

Finally, in an attempt to further its anti-drug message, the ONDCP has taken to cyberspace, posting a number of its ridiculous just-say-no-esque ad spots on YouTube.com. Ironically, the drug czar's office has used the same key words – pot, weed, ganja, etc. – to tag its spots as those used by everyone else loading pot-related videos onto the site, meaning viewers will get to compare the pro-pot videos of, say, NORML to those of the anti-pot ONDCP. Let the duel begin.

Got something to say on the subject? Send a letter to the editor.

  • More of the Story

  • Naked City

    Headlines and happenings from Austin and beyond

    Street Racing a Deadly Game

    Slaughter Lane, where the big Sept. 11 double-fatality wreck took place, is one of the city's most raced-down streets, according to APD

    The Good Fight

    Former Mayor Gus Garcia suits up for Las Manitas
  • Sustainable Living

    Renewable Energy Roundup and Green Living Fair is the place to learn about cutting-edge clean-energy technologies, as well as a one-stop shop for people wanting greener homes and natural backyard gardens

    Hurricane Housing Update

    Federal housing assistance 'recertification' deadline for hurricane evacuees looms for both landlords and their tenants

    Housing Authority in Trouble With HUD

    Federal audit says Housing Authority of the City of Austin could have to repay $588,130 to Department of Housing and Urban Development for overpayment of Section 8 vouchers

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More by Jordan Smith
'Chrome Underground' Goes Classic Car Hunting
'Chrome Underground' Goes Classic Car Hunting
Motoreum's Yusuf & Antonio talk about the biz and their reality TV debut

May 22, 2014

APD Brass Shifts Up, Down, Across
APD Brass Shifts Up, Down, Across
Musical chairs at Downtown HQ

May 9, 2014


marijuana possession arrests, Weed Watch, ONDCP, NORML, marijuana

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle