others might decrease them.
Taken together, the methodological problems with such a comparison are insurmountable,
if we wish to test this question scrupulously and definitively.
However, if we wish to use our sample's arrest data as a very loose indication of their
degree of criminal involvement and make a casual comparison with the overall arrest
figures for the United States, not as an attempt at a conclusive demonstration, but as a
crude approximation which at least poses this question, then perhaps light might be shed
on the issue. One qualification we must keep in mind concerns the adequacy of arrest
figures to measure criminal activity. Recall that all of the marijuana-related activity of our
sample resulted in a total of only nine marijuana arrests. Most of these were the
consequence of an accident of some sort. Thus, people who are not arrested are not
necessarily noncriminal but often merely lucky or evasive enough to be undetected. Is the
nonapprehended population less criminal than the arrestees We have no way of knowing.
We do know that nonarrestees commit a very large number of crimes. Of course, it varies
by the nature of the crime; murder is very often detected, and the offender arrested, while
crimes without victims usually go undetected.
At any rate, our 204 respondents admitted arrest a total of fifty-five times, for all
nontraffic, nonmarijuana offenses. As a parallel, keep in mind that in 1965, the arrest rate
for the American population was 3.7 arrests per 100 in the population.37 One difficulty
we have in comparing these two figures is that our figure is the number of arrests which
ever took place, while the U.S. figure is the recorded rate for that one year only. Since the
median age of our respondents is twenty-two, let us assume that the age range during
which an arrest is possible and likely is seven years—age fifteen to twenty-two, even
though the earliest arrest in our sample took place at age ten. Therefore, we might divide
the fifty-five arrests figure by seven, yielding a yearly rate of about 3.9 arrests per 100
individuals. (Even if we include the nine marijuana arrests, the figure is 4.5 per 100.) The
fact that this is almost identical with the national rate is surprising.
If we examine the types of crimes our respondents were arrested for, however, we find
ourselves looking at a pattern totally unlike the national picture. Drunkeness accounts for
by far the most arrests nationally; in fact one-third of all the arrests recorded in the United
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The Marijuana Smokers - Chapter 9
States in 1965 were for the single infraction of public drunkenness. Disorderly conduct, a
vague rubric, garnered about a tenth of all arrests. Larceny, driving under the influence of
alcohol, simple assault, burglary, violation of the liquor laws, vagrancy, gambling, and
motor vehicle theft, constituted the eight next most frequent offenses.38 No single crime
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