Recent Increases in Drug Arrests Were for Possession, Not Sales

Butts, Jeffrey A. (2012). Recent Increases in Drug Arrests Were for Possession, Not SalesResearch and Evaluation Data Bits [2012-02]. New York, NY: Research and Evaluation Center, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York.

The number of drug-related arrests reported by U.S. law enforcement agencies increased sharply between 1980 and 2010, with the largest growth occurring between 1991 and 2006. During that time, drug arrests jumped 87 percent nationwide, from just over 1.1 million to nearly 1.9 million arrests annually. The increase was restricted, however, to drug possession offenses rather than sales and manufacturing. Between 1991 and 2006, arrests for drug sales and manufacturing actually dropped 6 percent while arrests for possession climbed 139 percent. The same pattern was observed for arrests involving offenders of different ages, but the growth in drug possession arrests was sharpest among juveniles.