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FBI: Fewer Drug Arrests In 2015

In 2015 there were 1,488,707 arrests for drug law violations out of a total 10,797,088 arrests nationwide for all offenses.

The FBI has released its new Uniform Crime Report for 2015, the annual statistical report on crime in the US. According to the UCR, police made a total of 10,797,088 arrests for all offenses in 2015, a significant drop from the previous year's total of 11,205,833, and a huge decline from twenty years previously in the mid-1990s, when total arrests topped the fifteen million mark.

2015 saw the lowest number of drug arrests in 20 years, dropping below 1.5 million for the first time since 1995. Of the 1,488,707 arrests for drug law violations in 2015, 83.9% of them (1,249,025) were for possession of a controlled substance. Only 16.1% of them (239,682) were for the sale or manufacturing of a drug.

The majority of drug arrests in 2015 (43.2% of them) were for marijuana -- a total of 643,121. Of those, an estimated 574,641 arrests (or 38.6% of all drug arrests) were for marijuana possession alone.

The total number of arrests for marijuana offenses was at its lowest level since 1997, almost beating the total from 1996, when there were 641,642 arrests for all marijuana offenses.

There were declines in both possession and sale/manufacture arrests for marijuana offenses in 2015:

Arrests for Possession of Marijuana
2015: 574,641
2014: 619,809
2013: 609,423
2012: 658,231
2011: 663,032
2010: 750,591

Arrests for Sale/Manufacture of Marijuana:
2015: 68,480
2014: 81,184
2013: 84,058
2012: 91,593
2011: 94,937
2010: 103,247

Arrests involving sale or manufacture of heroin, cocaine, and derivatives showed a steep drop in 2015 compared with recent years, totaling just 81,879 compared with 90,551 the year before. In contrast, arrests for possession of heroin, cocaine, and derivatives rose sharply in 2015 compared with recent years. There were 296,252 arrests in 2015 for simple possession of heroin and cocaine compared with 265,409 in 2014.

Arrests for Possession of Heroin, Cocaine, and Derivatives
2015: 296,252
2014: 265,409
2013: 246,171
2012: 256,151
2011: 255,719
2010: 268,771

Arrests for Sale/Manufacture of Heroin, Cocaine, and Derivatives
2015: 81,879
2014: 90,551
2013: 90,063
2012: 94,698
2011: 96,469
2010: 101,608

Also in 2015, authorities reported 505,681 arrests for all violent crimes and 1,463,213 arrests for all property offenses. Compared to the previous year, in 2015 there was a slight increase in the number of arrests for violent crime, and a slight decrease in arrests for property crime.

The property crime rate in the US last year was at its lowest in twenty years, dipping to 2,487 reported property crimes per one hundred thousand population. The violent crime rate ticked up slightly, yet at 372.6 reported offenses per one hundred thousand population, the violent crime rate remains at an historic low.

The clearance rates for both violent and property crime in 2015 dipped slightly compared to 2014. Crimes are cleared when someone has been charged, whether or not they're ever found guilty. Less than half of all reported violent offenses are ever cleared by law enforcement, while fewer than one in five property crimes were cleared last year.

Updated statistics, tables, and more are available at

The FBI's 2015 UCR is at

Note: Story updated at 11:10am pacific time with data showing changes in arrest totals for certain drugs.