Recreational cannabis use remains illegal in 40 US states. But not all jurisdictions enforce prohibition with the same zeal. Some areas are more ruthless than others. With that in mind, here are the top 5 counties that have the highest rates of marijuana arrests, according to FBI data from 2016.
5. Edmunds County, South Dakota
The small county in North Dakota holds the title for the fifth highest rate of cannabis arrests. In 2016, arrests for possession alone added up to 33.3 percent of the state's annual arrests. And that's a huge problem for those folks, considering that getting arrested for cannabis possession is no joke in the the Mount Rushmore State, which has the harshest marijuana penalties in America.
4. Hartly County, Texas
Hartly County is one of the northernmost counties in Texas and one of the last places that you'd want to get caught with a joint. Simple cannabis possession represented 42 percent of the country's total arrests in 2016.
3. Sterling County, Texas
Sterling Country in central Texas beat out Hartly County by a hair for the third spot on this list. In total, 42.1 percent of 2016 arrests in Sterling County were for cannabis possession. But despite these high numbers in these Texas counties, things have changed in the Lone Star State over the past few years. District Attorneys in Texas' two largest counties—Dallas and Harris—are no longer prosecuting first time cannabis offenses. So maybe Hartly and Sterling will follow suit in the near future.
2. Hamilton County, New York
New York's smallest county doesn't have a stoplight, but it does have police sirens, and you'll probably be hearing lots of them if you wander in there with a joint blazing. Nearly half (43.5 percent) of arrests in Hamilton County in 2016 were for cannabis possession. Like it or not, certain lawmakers in the Empire State still harbor a little bit of that reefer madness.
1. Dooley County, Georgia
There was only one place were more arrests were made for cannabis possession than literally everything else combined. That place is In Dooley County, Georgia, where 54.4 percent - that's right, more than half of all arrests - were for something as minor as holding a few grams of pot. This, perhaps, isn't surprising, given that this is the same state where you can get locked up for a year over a gram and a half of weed.
What Does This Mean?
To put it bluntly, it means way too many people are being arrested for a drug that the World Health Organization says shouldn't even be restricted anymore. It also proves that despite the gains made in recent years by the cannabis legalization movement, much more work needs to be done to end the failed era of prohibition. In the words of Drug Policy Alliance Executive Director Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno, "the war on marijuana is far from over."
h/t Washington Post