Feds: Marijuana Trafficking Falls Following Statewide Legalization

CongressFederal marijuana trafficking prosecutions have declined significantly since the passage of statewide laws regulating the plant’s production and retail sale to adults, according to data provided by the United States Sentencing Commission.

According to the new report, the number of marijuana trafficking offenders prosecuted at the federal level fell dramatically after 2012 — declining from over 6,000 annually to fewer than 4,000 in 2015.

“The number of marijuana traffickers rose slightly over time until a sharp decline in fiscal year 2013 and the number continues to decrease,” the report concludes.

The period of decline overlaps with the passage and enactment of adult marijuana sales in various US states, including Colorado, Oregon, and Washington.

Federal data also reports a similar decline in cocaine trafficking since 2012. By contrast, federal prosecutions for heroin and methamphetamine trafficking have slowly risen over the better part of the past ten years.

Those convicted of marijuana trafficking spend an average of 29 months in prison, the report found.

A copy of the USSC report is available for download here.

20 thoughts

  1. I suppose that suggests that as states grow their own cannabis locally, less needs to be imported. I guess if you’re in favor of local sustainability, as I am, then that’s a good thing.

    But it seems to me that the difference between “drug trafficking” and “commerce” is much the same as the distinction between “terrorist” and “freedom fighter.” It all depends on which side you’re on!

    Trafficking in the slave trade is immoral because slavery itself is immoral; otherwise it would be called “transportation.” Inversely, in the case of marijuana, marijuana is criminal only in a contrived sense; maybe a better word for interstate and international drug trafficking is “shipping industry.”

    1. Speaking of terrorists, a bit of ugly news about the DEA, as reported by Phillip Smith of stopthedrugwar.org:

      The DEA, assisted by local law enforcement, has raided Montana Buds, the state’s largest dispensary. Witnesses reported agents removing items from the dispensary. One woman was seen sitting hand-cuffed in front of the building. Agents had no comment other than to say that “this is now a federal investigation.” The state Supreme Court ruled in February that dispensaries were illegal, but that ruling doesn’t take effect until August. Earlier this week, state medical marijuana interests asked the US Supreme Court to overturn the state Supreme Court ruling.

      1. have CANCER, Pa is supposed to be legal but where do I get help till they say it is ready for our use, which is another year and a half. I may not have that time????????????? I need it now??????

        [Editor’s note: Two words: self preservation. Don’t wait for the government in PA to catch up to your immediate needs for cannabis products. Example, in MD, the governmental delays implementing a legislatively passed medical cannabis bill will reach at least 46 months. While very unfortunate to have to buy or cultivate cannabis illegally, such would be more prudent than waiting for technocrats to roll out an overly bureaucratic medical cannabis access program.]

      2. I have epilepsy so I have been following this bill for almost a decade. PA did put in a provision that doctor who are eligible can write you a prescription, and it’s supposed to take affect this month or next. With that card you would be able to use an out of state dispensary to purchase. Delaware has one in Wilmington.

    2. That’s a very good point that you make Mark because there is nothing criminal about marijuana in anyway shape or for. They simply decided to make it illegal in order to further their own agenda and their agenda is not the best thing for America;not even close!

      It should be illegal for our lawmakers to make laws based on lies or racism or personal gain. All of the people that are fighting to keep marijuana illegal for any of those reasons are the real criminals!

      1. Thank you! But it gets worse: technically, the GAO (General Accountability Office)is charged with making sure that governmental policies are not based on lies or propaganda; but I recall many years ago, late 90’s I think it might have been, Marijuana Policy Project actually approached the GAO about the lies spewing from the Drug Czar’s Office. Astonishingly, they were told by the GAO, in effect, “well, if it’s for the purposes of fighting marijuana, I guess lying will be okay.” Wow.

  2. That is good news! I do not think anyone should be jailed or even prosecuted, over a God given plant. Especially when it has proven to have the medical benefits of Cannabis.

  3. “Those convicted of marijuana trafficking spend an average of 29 months in prison”

    Does anyone out there reading this think that spending time in prison for marijuana trafficking does anyone any good? Do the Feds imagine that these people caught up in this war against marijuana consumers come out better people?

    I wonder how much longer Americans will have to tolerate this kind of stupidity…

    1. With regards to marijuana prohibition, hopefully not too much longer. However, it seems clear that we Americans will most likely be forced to tolerate this kind of stupidity for as long as there are Americans.

    2. When the people in power are too afraid to live in a democracy, apparently it can no longer exist. I’m sure Prohibition will soon end as it is over the line too stupid to live in this police state we all grew up understanding would be the wrong future.

      1. As a barometer of our progress, that’s as fine a metric as any! Cause he don’t give a damn, he’s going where ever he pleases!

      2. While the Feds certainly have the “checkpoints” like the one Willie made famous in Sierra Blanca in 2010:


        The hubris of the Drug War leaves authorities constantly overstepping their boundries, behaving more like competing cartels;

        “The octogenarian county attorney, Kit Bramblett, who has no jurisdiction in federally initiated criminal cases, suggested Willie pay for his crime by singing “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” in the old adobe courthouse. This was gleefully reported by news media across the country but soon overruled by the county judge, Becky Dean-Walker, who reckoned it shameless favoritism. It turned out she had no authority in the case either…”

        And THAT is how are drug prosecutions operate, America.

        The less obvious corruption is slowly evaporating from a decrease in federal grants for incarceration. This corrupt money empowers local governments through kickbacks and funds that inevitably find their way into political campaign donations.

        Here is an old article from the last bust of ol Willie and Snoop Dog;


        The self proclaimed “Boss Hog” Sherriff West of Hudspeth County had no problem filling his jail cells until the Feds told him the grant dried up.

        “I don’t have a problem whatsoever going out there and arresting them,” West says. “I just have a problem making my local taxpayers foot the bill for America’s problem. I’m not gonna do the federal government’s job.”

        Just one problem Boss Hog; When you lock up nonviolent marijuana consumers using corrupt Federal Grants, that IS your local tax payer’s money through Federal Income tax, you fucking doofus. Thank you Willie, for drawing disinfecting light to Hazzard… I mean Hudspeth County…

  4. It stands to reason that the less you outsource the supply of cannabis for your country’s demand and supply demand in your own country that illegal trafficking goes down.

    Unfortunately, we can count on the prohibitionists dragging out cannabis prohibition as long as possible, as evidenced by Mark Mitchum’s post about the DEA raiding Montana Buds and the editor’s response to Judy’s concern about getting legal cannabis in Pennsylvania. I agree with the editor that if you live in PA or MD where they are delaying the realization of a actually being able to purchase legal cannabis in the state that the patients simply are forced to engage in illegal activity to get their medicine, like getting it off the street, having a dealer bring it in from out of state, or growing your own. I can just hear Barry White singing Right On, Right On, Right On as the chorus to being allowed to grow your own.

    1. The crazy thing is if Mexico’s President Peña Nieto gets MMJ passed in Mexico the way his party wants it then Mexico will be importing MMJ from Colorado! We realize drug cartels, the DOJ, prison lobbies and the pharmaceutical industry are looking for some privatized, quasi MMJ prohibition, that much is clear. But if the demand for safe,pesticide-free marijuana from the industry in Colorado is THAT great that not only is the fraudulent monopoly of NIDA’s pathetic farm in Mississippi being exposed by the State Department, but Mexico is openly considering importing quality marijuana supplies from Colorado? THAT is ridiculous.

  5. This is so not cool what about people like me who have disabilitys like I have hip dysplasia liberal tear in both hips I have fibromyalgia and I have bipolar and marijuana really helps with all the pain I have everyday like today my hips locked up on me and it was not co and the medicine that th je doctor gives me dose not help

    1. I will simply echo the editor’s note above: “self preservation.”

      While in general it’s better to legalize in one’s home state than move to another state, that’s also a hard damn thing to tell someone else, someone who might need their medicine right now. So, if I may suggest, do whatever you have to do to protect your health. If you cannot safely access the black market, then move to a state that respects your right to self-medicate.

      I don’t want to tell you to commit a crime! What if I told you that cannabis is not a crime, but cannbis prohibition is? If that’s fundamentally true (and I think it is) then buying cannabis on the black market is not a crime; but it can be dangerous. Be careful.

  6. Sounds to me like at least some of the feds are seeing the writing on the wall, and wisely spending more of their resources on REAL crime. All good news.

  7. Is the recent crackdown on dispensaries in Toronto;


    …a sign that, aside from the fact we know it always gets worse before it gets better when ending prohibition of any kind, that perhaps Canada screwed up by legalizing federally without establishing full legalization in at least one state?
    Can it be that what we have in Colorado, the continental divide of our nation, was the only way to legalize the United States?
    Do these raids indicate that Alberta needs to legalize and fully implement marijuana regulation so that the Canadian government can get their $#!+ together?

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