Federal Marijuana Sentences Plummet: Report

Cannabis PenaltiesThe number of federal offenders sentenced for violating marijuana laws has fallen significantly since 2012, according to data provided by the United States Sentencing Commission.

Just over 3,000 federal defendants were sentenced for marijuana violations in 2016, according to the Commission. That total is roughly half of the number of federal defendants that were sentenced in 2012. The total has fallen year-to-year since that time.

The 2016 total is nearly equal to the number of federal defendants sentenced for violating powder cocaine laws, and less than the number of federal defendants sentenced for heroin. Some 96 percent of federal marijuana defendants were sentenced for trafficking, with an average sentence of 28 months in prison.

Of those sentenced, 77 percent were Hispanic, 11 percent were Caucasian, and eight percent were African American. Fifty-six percent were categorized as non-US citizens.

In 2015, over 5,600 federal defendants were sentenced for violating marijuana laws, a total equal to some 25 percent of all federal drug sentences.

Click here to email your lawmakers on various pieces of legislation related to marijuana reform.


12 thoughts

  1. Why is marijuana legal in the only location in the US that has original and exclusive federal jurisdiction, the District of Columbia? If it is a federal medicine in the US’s own national domain, why is it a crime everywhere else?

    [Paul Armentano responds: Cannabis possession is depenalized in the District of Columbia because District voters enacted a municipal initiative to do so — just as voters in other legal jurisdictions have done.]

  2. Clearly, GEO group and the CCA, the two largest private prison groups, cut a deal with the Obama administration and Congress and every government body for sale before them to release their lobbying on state marijuana possession incarceration and exchange it for incarcerating illegal immigrant families:


    And the Trump administration is accelerating this disgusting situation:



    A 3-year-old has now spent more than half of his life in an immigrant prison in Pennsylvania.

    …A 3-Year-Old… IN A US PRISON.

    Immigrant children escaping a drug war US drug and foreign policy created from El Salvador to Guatemala are contemplating suicide as the US prisons they are in are worse than the Hell they escaped in their homeland. Now THAT’s Fucked up.

    Our CIA and USAID toppled their Democratically elected leaders for US corporate exploitation so companies like Food, Inc. could buy up all the land in Guatemala after the CIA was contracted to destroy their Democratically elected government during the 50’s. OUR drug demand and OUR US Drug and immigration policy sends gang leaders created in OUR prisons to destroy the lives of innocent, poor Central American families without informing the nations in question that we are deporting violent criminal gang leaders created in OUR made-to-fail US prisons.

    And when Drug War Refugees risk life and limb to get here and escape the wars our US policies created from the drugs WE demand? Mothers and babies rot in our private prisons for profit.


  3. We have former President Obama to thank for those numbers.

    If the new Attorney General, Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions III, appointed by our new Trumpy president has his way then we can all expect the incarceration and asset allocation rates to skyrocket… After all, he said that heroin is only slightly worse than marijuana when it comes to ruining peoples lives… Friggin’ idiot that he is…

  4. Jeff sessions is a fucking idiot , hard to believe he got to be where he is! Good people don’t smoke marijuana ,how stupid of a comment is that,he obviously has no idea of the medical facts about the help it is for the sick ! FIRE THE PRICK!!!

  5. it all sounds nice that the Feds are not arresting anyone, or a chosen few for cannabis.. However, it is the Federal law causing all the harm world-wide and nationwide. The Federal law is making it OK for states to keep the drug war going, and the federal money pushed on the states is causing harm as well.

    The administration and-or congress needs to get educated. The money they spend on it is waste, the veterans need cannabis without restrictions. The cannabis market place will create taxes, innovation and EMPLOYMENT.

    With every dollar being spent on the table to be cut, Ending Cannabis prohibition should be a no-brainer for congress, senate and Trump.

    If these people are so dam smart, with (so they say) a “college” education, then why are they so dam stupid.

    American can’t even get this easy issue fixed, we are doomed.

  6. Does it seem that Jeff sessions becoming attorney general is speeding up the marijuana legalization process in Congress ?

  7. Look what the DEA has done: How stupid is that Mr. Sessions?

    The DEA approved synthetic marijuana for big pharma company against legalization.


    The company is currently under investigation for illegally marketing Fentanyl, an opioid that is 50 times stronger than heroin, which has been linked to the death of Prince last year.

    In 2007, Insys filed a disclosure statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission, directly stating that marijuana legalization would threaten their products.

    “If marijuana or non-synthetic cannabinoids were legalized in the United States, the market for dronabinol product sales would likely be significantly reduced and our ability to generate revenue and our business prospects would be materially adversely affected,” the company said.

    “You have a company using profits from the sale of what has been called ‘the most potent and dangerous opioid on the market’ to prevent adults from using a far less harmful substance,” Holyoak said according to the Arizona Republic.

    1. Thanks for the link, Don M.
      We knew that the pending DEA permit for the synthetic marijuana patent for Insys Therapeutics was the primary motivation for their successful campaign to stop whole plant marijuana legalization in Arizona last year. But reading it the way that RT presents it is like reading something out of a villains fantasy in a comic book. Yet this is the reality we live in. An evil pharmaceutical company that had employees arrested while the CEO stepped down in December right after stopping legalization in Arizona was caught paying off doctors to give lethal sythetic heroin… fentanyl to cancer patients under their brand Subsys. And now they have permission from the DEA to market potentially lethal synthetic marijuana, Syndros. The names even sound comic book style evil.
      At the bottom of the link theres a video about the lethal effects of synthetic marijuana and a batman comic book with the face of the Joker on it. Cathartic evil. Whole plant marijuana kills no one, and meanwhile the big argument for Insys is that legal marijuana farming will cut into their profits… profits from killing people.

      Insys is paying off our politicians to target uneducated Americans… increasingly white middle aged working class Americans… for synthetic addictions leading to overdose and suicide:


      What a coincidence the above study’s origin of the deaths of despair begins in the SouthWest where Insys is based.

      We need to educate eachother regardless of race as Insys is counting on racial disparity to divide us from mobilizing for 2018 elections.

  8. if weed was leagal it could be grown by farmers with a tax permet . packed by the tobacco co.
    in a pink wrapper. sold in liqure stors that would make a lot of tax money for helth care schools welfaire and the armed forces why don’t the stupid people in Washington put it together???????????

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