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President Obama has magically increased the number of days you can smoke marijuana before getting arrested

June 11, 2013
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Marijuana Possession Enforcement is Down Dramatically Under President Obama by Keith Humphreys

This is one of the most bizarre defenses of President Obama that I’ve ever seen.

Humphreys’ basic thesis is that even though marijuana arrests have remained high during President Obama’s term, marijuana use has gone up, so arrests as a percentage of use has gone down (the number of possession arrests per 1,000 days of use). He uses that statistic as proof that Obama has been kinder when it comes to marijuana arrests.

Really?

The first very obvious objection: the notion that arrests as a percentage of use is a statistic that has any relevance. There’s no evidence that law enforcement, all other things being equal, would actually arrest more people for marijuana possession if marijuana use goes up. So the fact that they didn’t isn’t evidence of some kind of lessening of enforcement emphasis.

But that’s only the beginning. Marijuana possession arrests are done by the states and local cops, not the feds. And there’s no evidence that local and state marijuana policy is easing due to federal influence.

After all, federal funding on enforcement has remained stable, despite their rhetoric. And if anything, states have been defying the federal government in terms of medical marijuana and recreational marijuana legalization. When police in Washington and Colorado stopped arresting people for mere possession, it sure wasn’t at the urging of President Obama!

So, Keith is giving Obama credit for something that probably doesn’t exist, and if it does, is more likely happening in spite of Obama.

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Pete Guither is the editor of drugwarrant.com

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