Chris Goldstein is a cannabis reform advocate and teaches the “Marijuana in the Media” class at Temple University’s Journalism Department.  

There were 19,730 people arrested in Pennsylvania last year for having less than 30 grams of marijuana. 

That is equal to heroin, cocaine, meth, opiates and all other drug possession arrests combined, according to my new review of data in the PennsylvaniaUniform Crime Reporting System.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is spending his first few weeks in office reigniting the needless war on America’s marijuana consumers. But prohibition is the business of  the local police and it’s a real drain on budgets.

According to a RAND Corporation report, a single marijuana arrest costs $1,266 in Vermont.

That means Pa. police departments may have spent up to $25 million tax dollars in 2016 catching people with a dime bag and glass pipe or someone with a pre-rolled joint.

When these otherwise law-abiding citizens get to Pa. courts then taxpayers may spend another $1,000 per offender, or $20 million, on processing and supervision.

That’s at least $45 million in taxes we might be wasting every year on busting people for weed…during the biggest budget crunch in memory.

Some additional findings:

A staggering 72% of people arrested in Pennsylvania for a small amount of pot are age 18-29. (Put another way: Millennials make up 12,750 of the 19,730 weed arrests.) Women (3,512) were arrested more often for small amounts  of cannabis than possession of any other drug. The Pennsylvania State Police accounted for one quarter of all marijuana possession arrests (4,612); more than twice their arrests for heroin, meth, cocaine and all other drug possession combined. Troopers spent an estimated $5.8 million during 2016 performing arrests for marijuana.

District Attorneys and judges offer

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