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Drug arrests are on the rise

Drug arrests are on the rise in Florida and across the United States. According to the FBI's Uniform Report, there were more than 1.5 million drug-related arrests in 2016, which represents a 5.63 percent increase compared to 2015. Nearly 85 percent of these arrests were for drug possession only. Arrests for marijuana possession increased and accounted for 41 percent of all drug arrests in 2016.

As more states are legalizing marijuana for medical and personal use, many Americans are now against criminalization of marijuana. In some states, the majority of Americans are now against incarceration for simple possession charges for citizens with no record of violence.

Drug arrests affect certain populations in the U.S. disproportionately. For example, African Americans make up 13 percent of the U.S. population but represent almost 35 percent of prisoners incarcerated for drug possession. Drug crime arrests are responsible for some mass deportations, even for legal permanent residents who are gainfully employed.

Organizations such as the United Nations and World Health Organization have proposed the repeal of laws that criminalize drug use and possession. In 2001, Portugal enacted laws that decriminalized all low-level use and possession of drugs. There is now increased emphasis on providing treatment for drug addiction, which has resulted in decreased overdoses and other health issues.

A person who has been arrested for a drug offense may wish to consult an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Some states are offering alternatives to convictions such as drug court, a drug diversion program that emphasizes treatment. A lawyer may be to assist a person accused of a drug crime by ensuring that the person's search and seizure rights were not violated, exploring court diversion options and participating in plea negotiations with the prosecutor.

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