Study: 240,000 arrested for having pot in Wash.; minorities hit hardest

Oct 11, 2012

A new study looks at how many people have been arrested for marijuana possession in Washington state over the past 25 years, and it's a big number: 240,000.

The Marijuana Arrest Research Project released a report Thursday detailing the arrest figures, based on data from the FBI. It comes as voters consider whether to legalize and tax pot sales for adults.One of the authors is Harry Levine, a sociologist at Queens College in New York.

He says that it wasn't possible to figure out how many of the 240,000 might have been arrested for other charges, such as assault, in addition to marijuana possession, because of the way Washington state data are reported to the FBI.

But based on other studies of states that do separate out such data, the researchers believe that the overwhelming majority of the 240,000 arrests were for simple misdemeanor possession alone.

Minorities were arrested at a higher rate than whites.