In October 2016, the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch issued a report concerning the harmful effects of the criminalization of small amounts of drugs meant for personal use. It set forth some statistics that are alarming, and it recommends that states as well as the federal government strongly consider changing their views on these minor offenses.
There are currently more arrests being made for the possession of drugs than for any other crime, a total of 1.25 million on an annual basis. Four times as many arrests are made for possession than are made for distribution. Almost 50 percent of the possession arrests are for small quantities of marijuana, and in 2015 more such arrests were made than for murder, rape, aggravated assault and robbery combined. Even so, drug use has not decreased, and the report believes that education and prevention rather than criminalization should be the proper focus.
The report also looked at the effect that these types of arrests have had on defendants and their family members. Far too many people die in jail while they are awaiting trial because they are unable to come up with money for a bail bond. The report recounted the story of a man who was arrested for smoking pot in his own home and ended up dying before trial.
The report focused on only four states, but this is a problem nationwide. Illinois authorities continue to take drug charges seriously, and the penalties resulting from a conviction can be hash. Accordingly, people who are facing these types of charges may want to meet with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible so that an appropriate strategy to combat the allegations can be built. One possible challenge could be to the search that led to the seizure of the drugs as being made without probable cause.