The Nation's Toughest Weed Enforcers: New Jersey Cops
By Mike Davis and Ken Serrano
Marijuana users in New Jersey — which is on the verge of legalizing weed — are arrested at the highest rate in the nation by local police departments, some of which report that more than a third of their arrests were for pot, a USA TODAY NETWORK New Jersey investigation found.
There were 32,279 marijuana possession arrests in 2016 — more than murder, rape, assault or any type of theft, according to the latest data available from the FBI's Uniform Criminal Reporting program. The FBI tracks nearly all arrests across the nation.
More than one-third — 36 percent — of the weed possession arrests were of African Americans, although blacks comprise just 13 percent of the state's population. Learn more about who is arrested for marijuana possession in the video below. There was no breakdown in the data on the arrest of Hispanic suspects.
The most common marijuana suspect is a 19-year-old white man living in Bergen County, according to the FBI's Uniform Criminal Reporting program. Marijuana possession makes up nearly 11 percent of all arrests in New Jersey.
Statewide, marijuana possession accounted for 10.6 percent of all arrests made by local, state and federal law enforcement officers — about one arrest for every 187 adult residents. It was the highest percentage in the United States, the Network found. The next closest state was South Carolina at 9.9 percent of all arrests.