The Washington Post

Where is normal? The highest rates of marijuana arrests

Welcome to a recurring feature on Storyline where we identify the counties that are “normal” for an issue in the American landscape, compared to the national average.

In 2012, one person was arrested every 48 seconds for possession of marijuana in the United States.

The FBI collects data on crime across the country on a yearly basis and publishes them in what they call Uniform Crime Reporting.

Thanks to the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data, county-level arrests data based on those reports from the FBI. Mashing that data up with census statistics on population, we can get a per capita rate for the country of 198.3 marijuana possession arrests per 100,000 people. Mapped by county, arrests look like this:

The data is partially incomplete because Alabama and Florida provided no arrests data and data provided by Illinois and South Dakota were limited. Those areas are grayed out on the map above.

Based on the data, nine counties fell within half a person of the U.S. per capita average:

– Atoka County, Okla.;

– Dade County, Ga.;

– Echols County, Ga.;

– Freestone County, Tex.;

– Jefferson County, Tenn.;

– Marquette County, Mich.;

– Penobscot County, Maine;

– Scott County Minn.;

– and Wise County, Tex.

Seven of every eight marijuana-based offenses in 2012 was for possession of the substance.

Steven Rich is the database editor for investigations at The Washington Post. While at The Post, he’s worked on investigations involving tax liens, civil forfeiture, cartels and government oversight. He was also a member of the reporting team awarded the Pulitzer for NSA revelations. PGP Fingerprint: 69FA 5730 ADDD 5488 24FE 6EB2 B727 D930



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Danielle Paquette and Steven Rich · July 30, 2014