A report points to the need for decriminalizing personal drug use and possession in California as well as in the rest of the nation. The report was released by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Human Rights Watch organizations on Oct. 12.
According to the report, more than 1,250,000 people are arrested for drug possession every year in the country, making it the most frequently charged crime in the nation. This equates to one person being arrested for possessing drugs every 25 seconds. In 2015, people were arrested for possession versus drug sales at a ratio of four to one. Almost 50 percent of the drug possession charges are for marijuana.
Despite the fact that police arrest more people for drug possession than anything else, the enforcement efforts have not resulted in fewer people using drugs. Police also tend to focus on charging people with drug possession because the cases are relatively easy to prove and because they often have arrest quotas that they must meet. The report also details the fact that prosecutors tend to overcharge their cases so that they can secure pleas, judges tend to impose harsh sentences for drug crimes and police often use search and seizure tactics that are unconstitutional.
Many people are in jail or prison for the possession of drugs. Knowing this, people who are charged with a drug possession offense might want to get help from a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible so that work can start on building a strategy to combat the allegations. One challenge that might be made under some circumstances is that the search that led to the drugs being found was not conducted with the requisite probable cause.