Maps reveal how each U.S. state enforces drug laws differently

Drug use and arrests are rising overall, but those changes vary depending on the state.

Maps reveal how each U.S. state enforces drug laws differently
Detox.net
  • Detox.net recently published maps that use the latest government data on drug use and arrests to show how enforcement varies across the country.
  • Marijuana arrests remain significantly high in many states, even in some where pot's legalized.
  • Methamphetamine is, by far, the drug most commonly involved in drug-related offenses across the country.

American law enforcement agencies made 1.63 million arrests for drug law violations in 2017, according to FBI data. That's nearly a 4 percent increase from 2016, and it breaks down to about one drug arrest every 20 seconds. About 85 percent of those arrests were for possession.

The 2017 National Drug Use And Health survey from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration shows that drug use and availability are on the rise across the country. At the state level, however, the data illustrate a varied and more nuanced picture.

Detox.net, an online addiction treatment resource owned by the company American Addictions Centers, recently published a report highlighting the different ways in which states charge and punish drug offenders.

In 30 states, methamphetamine was the drug most frequently involved in drug-related offenses for 2017.

That's partly because meth is more tightly regulated, controlled and monitored than other drugs, as Dr. Stephen Pannel, medical director of Oxford Treatment Center in Mississippi, told Big Think.

"Crystal meth is the drug most frequently seen in criminal offenses, because possessing just a small amount can lead to very significant criminal consequences," Dr. Pannel said. "Once a person is hooked on meth, it requires a large amount to maintain the habit. This usually leads to criminal behaviors including theft, to support the habit with money."

Marijuana was the most cited drug in offenses for only two states in 2017. Still, it's surprising to note that, despite increasingly lax cultural attitudes and the legalization of pot in 10 states, marijuana arrests are actually on the rise, with one person being arrested every 48 seconds, according to FBI data released in September.

The map above shows the percentage of total drug offenses attributable to marijuana in 2017. Each state clearly varies in how it pursues marijuana enforcement, especially those which have decriminalized pot, such as Connecticut, Delaware and New Hampshire. Interestingly, Colorado still arrests many people for marijuana offenses, which can include public consumption, illegal sales and underage possession.

A more consistent pair of metrics across the states are the rates of plea deals and prison sentences for drug offenses.

Rhode Island stands out with an exceptionally low share of drug offenses ending in prison time, likely a result of the state's move to roll back mandatory minimum sentencing in recent years.

The rates of sentencing might be fairly consistent on the national level, but the severity of punishment seems to vary across the states, with Iowa as the strictest state and Arizona as the most relaxed.

A 'wake-up' call

Dr. Pannel said he hopes the report helps draw attention to the drug epidemic in the U.S.

"This study serves as a wake-up call on the magnitude of the problem and how the drug epidemic is impacting our criminal justice system. What it shows is that millions of Americans are charged with drug-related crimes and many are incarcerated for it. We hope this will help start a conversation about the need for treatment to help deter these types of crimes."

90,000-year-old human hybrid found in ancient cave

Researchers have just discovered the remains of a hybrid human.

Researchers in a chamber of the Denisova cave in Siberia, where the fossil of a Denisova 11 was discovered. CreditIAET SB RAS, Sergei Zelensky
Surprising Science

90,000 years ago, a young girl lived in a cave in the Altai mountains in southern Siberia. Her life was short; she died in her early teens, but she stands at a unique point in human evolution. She is the first known hybrid of two different kinds of ancient humans: the Neanderthals and the Denisovans.

Keep reading Show less

The 10 most influential women in tech right now

These thought leaders, founders, and entrepreneurs are propelling the kind of future we want to be a part of.

Kimberly Bryant (left) , Joanna Stern (middle) ,and Susan Wojcicki (right)

Credit: Flickr, The Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch
Technology & Innovation
  • The tech industry may be dominated by men in terms of numbers, but there are lots of brilliant women in leadership positions that are changing the landscape.
  • The women on this list are founders of companies dedicated to teaching girls to code, innovators in the fields of AI, VR, and machine learning, leading tech writers and podcasters, and CEOs of companies like YouTube and Project Include.
  • This list is by no means all-encompassing. There are many more influential women in tech that you should seek out and follow.

Keep reading Show less

Study: 33% of people fantasize about being in a sexually open relationship

Most said they want to act on their desire someday. But do open relationships actually work?

Credit: Pixabay
Sex & Relationships
  • The study involved 822 Americans who were in monogamous relationships at the time.
  • Participants answered questions about their personalities, sexual fantasies, and intentions to act on those fantasies.
  • Research suggests practicing consent, comfort, and communication makes open relationships more likely to succeed.
Keep reading Show less
Mind & Brain

Teen popularity linked to increased depression in adolescence, decreased depression in adulthood

The results of this study showed depressive symptoms being highest in adolescence, declining in early adulthood and then climbing back up again into one's early 30s.

Scroll down to load more…
Quantcast