Medical marijuana has become legal in many states across the U.S., including Illinois. Despite the legalization of the drug for recreational use as well in some states, marijuana-related arrests continue to rise.

There were 659,700 marijuana arrests in 2017 compared to 653,249 in 2016. Most of these arrests were for simple possession charges rather than selling or growing marijuana. In states where recreational marijuana legislation has been passed, the bans on marijuana possession for adults have been lifted.

Many policymakers believe that the high number of arrests for marijuana offenses is a waste of law enforcement resources, especially considering the number of deaths that result from opioid overdoses each year. Many people believe that marijuana should not be a high priority for drug busts because it is now legal in multiple states. A drug bust occurs approximately every 19 seconds in the United States. Marijuana arrests accounted for 40.4 percent of drug arrests in 2017.

A person arrested for drug charges may benefit from consulting a criminal defense attorney. In some cases, an attorney may be able to challenge the legality of the police conduct that occurred during a search, seizure or arrest. Police must have probable cause to arrest a person and must adhere to strict procedural requirements in order to obtain a warrant to conduct a search. Statements made by a person accused of a crime subsequent to arrest may also be suppressed if the police did not obtain the statements lawfully.

Every case is different, so an attorney may discuss several possible outcomes and strategies with clients who are facing drug charges. In some cases, an attorney can negotiate a deal with the prosecutor for the state to reduce charges in exchange for the defendant’s guilty plea.