Despite being closer to legalizing marijuana than ever before, New Jersey has the highest arrest rate for pot of all other US states — except Wyoming, a recent study shows.
Jon Gettman, a criminal justice professor at Shenandoah University in Virginia, compiled arrest data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting program to analyze marijuana arrests by state, NJ.com reported.
In 2016, over 35,000 people in New Jersey were arrested for either marijuana possession or distribution, giving the state the second-highest arrest rate in the country, the outlet said.
It was third overall in the country for total marijuana arrests, losing only to Texas and New York.
Gettman attributed the arrest rate to high police activity in the Garden State. He gave no explanation for why Wyoming had the highest rate.
“When you have greater police activity in a certain neighborhood … you’re going to have more marijuana arrests,” he said, according to NJ.com.
Recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows New Jersey has some of the highest numbers of police officers per capita in the country.
While New York is ranked 26th in the country for its rate of marijuana arrests, that low rank is largely attributed to the swelling population of the Empire State. A total of 36,977 were arrested for pot possession alone in 2016.
New Jersey’s newly elected governor, Phil Murphy, ran on a weed legalization platform and promised to legalize it for those 21 and older.