RICHMOND, Va. — Marijuana arrests in Virginia have more than tripled since 1999, according to a news release sent out on Thursday.
With nearly 29,000 marijuana arrests in 2018, Attorney General Mark R. Herring wants laws to change.
In 1999, the total number of marijuana arrests in the state of Virginia was 9,036. Approximately, 28,886 arrests were made in 2018, rising the number of arrests to the highest level in the state in at least 20 years.
"We can do better than this, there is a smarter, better approach to cannabis, and it starts with decriminalization and addressing past convictions and moves to legal and regulated adult use," Herring said.
According to the release, 52 percent of those 2018 arrests were of people under the age of 24 and marijuana arrests accounted for 59 percent of all the drug-related arrests in Virginia.
The arrests also reveal racial inequality.
"Almost half of the arrests in Virginia are of African Americans, and yet they comprise about 20 percent of the population," Herring said. "There have been studies that have consistently shown the rate of usage of marijuana for white Americans and African Americans is about the same."
In his reasoning for the reform, Herring said it has an unnecessary negative impact a criminal conviction for possession, the expense costs of enforcing the current system, and the disparate impact on African Americans and people and communities of color.
The following is a look at the marijuana arrests in Virginia from 1999-2018: