Utah leads nation in drug convictions on public land

SALT LAKE CITY - According to a data research organization at Syracuse University, Utah led the nation in convictions for simple drug possession on public lands last year.

Using Justice Department data, the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse found Utah's federal court processed about a third of the 465 convictions nationwide -- or some 155 convictions.

The District of Eastern Virginia was second with 79 convictions and the Western District of Texas was third with 61 convictions.

The clearinghouse's figures are not broken down by drug type.

Utah also ranked first in 2011.

U.S. Attorney for Utah David Barlow told The Salt Lake Tribune that it's not surprising Utah would lead the nation considering the large amount of federal land in the state.

But St. George attorney Aric Cramer says it's a "waste of resources" for park rangers to spend time on drug arrests at a time when federal agencies are facing budget cuts.

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