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Marijuana Arrests At Record High Across U.S.


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A record number of people were handcuffed nationally for marijuana-related violations in 2006.

According to the FBI's Uniform Crime Report released last week, nearly 830,000 people were arrested in the U.S. for marijuana-related incidents, the highest recorded total in the country's history. Of those arrests, nearly 90 percent were for possession.

But while the national numbers may be at an all-time high, East Lansing Police Department said the local marijuana arrests have held steady in the past few years.

Narcotic arrests in the last five years have typically been slightly below 100 per year. East Lansing police Lt. Kevin Daley estimated that about 90 percent of narcotics arrests are for marijuana violations – and most of those arrested are between the ages of 17 and 25.

Daley said the number of arrests are in line with other colleges with populations like MSU.

"It is very similar to other college towns," Daley said. "I don't feel we have any greater issues or problems. Our number one problem is still alcohol."

MSU police Inspector Kelly Beck said drug arrests – of which there are about 100 per year on campus – are the result of a typical college atmosphere.

"It's part of our everyday activities," Beck said. "We respond and investigate cases like these often."

One result of drug convictions that affects students is a federal law punishing those who receive financial aid and have been convicted of marijuana-related charges.

Students who are found guilty of marijauana charges and who receive financial aid run the risk of having their eligibility revoked, especially those with more than one conviction or a trafficking charge.

Cathy Wilcox, senior associate director for the University of Iowa's student financial aid office, said the confusion of marijuana laws in relation to student aid has affected applications. The current Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form asks applicants whether they have been convicted for the possession or sale of illegal drugs while receiving federal student aid.

"They've made some modifications to the requirements, and what I've found is that there were students who left (the conviction) question blank," Wilcox said.

Although she hasn't seen any cases in her experience, Val Meyers, associate director of the MSU Office of Financial Aid, said she thinks most federal aid applicants aren't aware of how marijuana convictions can hinder applications for money.

"It's one question they have to answer every year," Meyers said. "I doubt people think about it very much. I think they would be surprised very much if they knew it was one of the ramifications."

News Moderator: CoZmO - 420 MAGAZINE ® - Medical Marijuana Publication & Social Networking
Source: The State News (East Lansing, MI)
Author: Jacob Carpenter
Contact: feedback@statenews.com
Copyright: 2007 The State News
Website: The State News: Marijuana arrests at record high across U.S.
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