Vice Squad
Tuesday, November 04, 2003
Citizens of Oceania

The FBI's arrest statistics for 2002 have recently been posted on Drug WarRant,
and once again, vice leads the day, with drug arrests at the top of the list
and drunk driving a close second. (There are lots of other alcohol-related
arrests, too; incidentally, though I favor (at a minimum) the decriminalization
of possession of small quantities of currently-illicit drugs, I believe that,
generally speaking, controls on alcohol in the US should be strengthened.)
But how does the FBI characterize the drug-related arrests? Perhaps as
"Drug-related arrests"? No. Perhaps as "Drug law violations"? No. In a
wonderful instance of persuasive definition, the FBI lists these arrests as
"Drug abuse violations." How is someone in possession of a little bit of
marijuana (the modal drug arrest) engaged in drug abuse? Maybe there
was a printing error (though it is not the first year that the FBI has
employed this usage): perhaps they meant to write "Drug law abuses."

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