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No Federal Inmates Are In Prison Only For Marijuana Possession

The number of federal offenders sentenced for simple possession of marijuana is small and has been declining steadily from 2,172 in fiscal year 2014 to only 145 in fiscal year 2021, the U.S. Sentencing Commission said in a new report. The overall trends were largely driven by one federal court district, Arizona, which accounted for nearly 80 percent of all federal marijuana possession sentencings since 2014. As the number of such cases in Arizona declined from a peak of 1,916 in 2014 to just two in fiscal year 2021, the overall federal caseload followed a similar pattern.


Federal offenders sentenced for marijuana possession in the last five fiscal years tended to be male (85.5 percent), Hispanic (70.8 percent), and non-U.S. citizens (59.8 percent). A little over two-thirds (70.1 percent) were sentenced to prison; the average prison sentence imposed was five months. As of January 2022, no offenders sentenced solely for simple possession of marijuana remained in the federal custody. In fiscal year 2021, 4,405 federal offenders received criminal history points under the federal sentencing guidelines for prior marijuana possession sentences. Most of the prior sentences were for under 60 days in prison.

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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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