This is a followup to my recent post “New report reveals cannabis arrest hot spots in Wisconsin“, looking at trends in cannabis possession and sales arrests and citations in Wisconsin between 2010-2014 with data from the state Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) database.
While that post looked more at the most current stats from 2014 and a little at trends, this post includes detailed possession/sales offense numbers for the Top Five Wisconsin counties for pot arrests. The Top Five counties are Milwaukee, Dane, Racine, Kenosha and Brown. I’ve made a number of charts which can be found below to help analyze these stats. Figure One directly below shows citations/arrests for possession of cannabis.
Figure Two below shows the stats for arrests for sales in the Top Five counties:
Figure Three shows the actual totals for possession and sales arrests.
Here are some takeaways from these stats:
- Milwaukee County has seen steady decreases in arrests for both possession and sales.
- Despite being the 5th largest county for arrests/citations, Brown County had the second highest numbers of arrests for sales after Milwaukee County, the state’s most populous. Brown County had more sales arrests than Dane County 4 of the 5 years, despite having half the population.
- Both Racine and Kenosha counties have high arrest totals for possession and sales. Racine County’s arrests totals for possession have actually been climbing over the five years, while Kenosha’s County’s possession arrests have been fairly steady.
- After climbing in 2011, Dane County possession arrests began a gradual drop from 2012-2014, while sales arrests climbed in 2013 and 2014
Looking at the Top Five individually starting with Milwaukee city and county:
- While the Milwaukee County suburbs and UW-Milwaukee arrest rates for cannabis possession and sales have remained fairly steady, the drop in possession/sales arrests in the City of Milwaukee is striking. The much smaller city of West Allis ranked second in possession charges consistently racking up over 200 cases a year between 2010-2014. It will be interesting to see if these trends continue when newer stats become available.
Dane County also recorded steady declines in possession cases from 2012-2014.
- Looking at Dane County, City of Madison pot arrests have dropped annually since rising from 425 to 542 in 2011.
- In Fitchburg, which had the highest pot fines in Dane County until reducing them to $1.00 plus costs in summer 2015, pot arrests dipped from a high of 128 in 2011 to 56 in 2014.
- For the last 4 years, Dane County Sheriffs arrested/cited close to a hundred per year for possession.
- UW-Madison arrests/citations jumped from a low of 6 in 2013 to a high of 104 in 2014. We reached out to the UW-Madison Police Dept. and heard back from Jessica at the UWPD in a voicemail, : “In 2013 there were 6 listed and in 2014 there were 104. The great difference in this number is in the way we report or essentially count our offenses. Previously we had not been counting UW admin code violations in our UCR count which is why in 2013 it only showed 6. In 2014 we started counting these UW admin code violations under the UCR reporting and that’s how we jumped from 6 to 104.”
Figures Eight and Nine below look at Racine County.
Racine County possession and sales cases rose sharply in 2013 and 2014 with the Racine County Sheriffs and the Mt. Pleasant and Caledonia police leading the charge and the Sheriffs also ramping up sales arrests. The Racine Police Dept. maintained a fairly steady rate with most numbers in the mid-to high 300s through the five year stretch.
Figures Ten and Eleven look at Kenosha County.
The top two agencies for pot cases in Kenosha County are the Kenosha Police and the County Sheriffs. Racine police make more possession arrests with the sheriffs at a half to a third but making equal or more sales arrests. Cannabadger looked at Kenosha in May 2015 with this post, “Kenosha City Council Cool to Reducing Pot Penalties but say debate inevitable.” It appears the council is still cool to it with no news that it is being looked at. Cannabadger also had a post about the Kenosha County Sheriff, “Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth: No discussion of changing county pot fines.”
Number Five in the Top Five is Brown County, home of the Green Bay Packers, seen below in Figures Twelve and Thirteen.
The Green Bay Police make the most possession and sales arrests in Brown County, with the County Sheriffs a far distant second. The home of the Packers, Green Bay’s Lambeau Field, is bordered on three sides by the village of Ashwaubenon. From 2010-2013 the village pot possession cases ranged from 33 to 60 then dropped to 2 in 2014.
The UCR database is really a useful tool in analyzing pot arrests in Wisconsin. Unfortunately all too often, the picture painted is harsh enforcement at a time when adults can walk into storefronts in states like Washington, Colorado, Oregon and Alaska and purchase legal cannabis. The 2016 elections include a number of states hoping to legalize for both medical and adult use.
But while Wisconsin may cling to its draconian pot laws, the world is changing. That change does not stop at the state line. What is needed is more discussion about the many costs of cannabis prohibition and cannabigotry on Wisconsin. Wisconsinites are ready for legalization and elected representatives need to acknowledge that and work for it or lose their seats to citizens ready and willing to make it happen.