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20 Dreadful Marijuana Criminal Statistics [2021 Update]

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One of the most prevalent types of substance abuse in the US involves marijuana.

Even though it is illegal on a federal level, reports indicate about 118 million Americans have consumed it at least once in their lifetime.

Check this out:

Marijuana criminal statistics indicate that marijuana use is even more customary than the use of hallucinogens, inhalants, and cocaine combined.

With that in mind, let’s delve deeper into the facts, stats, crime rates, and offenses involving individuals under the influence of marijuana.

Disturbing Marijuana Crime Facts (Editor’s Pick)

  • Marijuana legalization brings down crime rates by 19%.
  • 92% of all arrests involving marijuana are for possession.
  • 40% of males arrested for crimes tested positive for marijuana.
  • 12% of all drug-related federal inmates are being held for marijuana-related offenses.
  • 40% of the total number of drug arrests were marijuana-related.
  • 50% of dispensaries experience robberies.
  • 94% of the inmates serving time in federal prisons because of marijuana are male.
  • Each year, the US spends $47 billion on illegal drug arrests.

Effects of Marijuana Legalization

1. Marijuana use disorder increased in states where it is legal, from 5.65% to 7.1%.

(Jama Network)

These new marijuana legalization statistics found that marijuana use has increased in states where it is legal.

Increased use leads to addiction, especially among adults aged 26 or higher.

2. The state of Nevada reported a staggering $20 million in marijuana tax revenue between July and December 2017.


Ever since Nevada voters approved recreational use, marijuana legalization results report staggering figures in tax revenue. In October 2017 alone, the industry sold $37.9 million.

However, not everything is rainbows and unicorns.


Take a look at the next stat:

3. License eligibility requires Nevada residents to live at least 25 miles away from the nearest dispensary.

(Las Vegas Sun)

In layman’s terms, this means that an individual cannot grow as much weed as they want at home unless they live at least 25 miles outside the radius of the nearest dispensary.

Marijuana laws prohibit mass growth and production in households. People can grow only up to 6 plants per person or a maximum of 12 per household.

4. Marijuana legalization brings down crime rates by up to 19%.

(Marijuana Moment)

There were growing concerns that marijuana legalization would have increased effects on crime

Boy, were they unfounded!

In fact, the latest studies indicate quite the opposite.

Neighborhoods that see the opening of additional dispensaries experience a decrease of about 17 crimes per 10,000 residents.

Marijuana Crime Statistics

5. 92% of all arrests involving marijuana are for possession.

(NY Times)

The FBI’s marijuana crimes statistics reveal more than nine in ten arrests involving marijuana have been for possession.

Interestingly, there is a 0.5% increase in the number of arrests on a yearly basis.

6. 40% of the total number of drug arrests were marijuana-related.

(Pew Research)

Four in ten drug arrests involved marijuana manufacturing, selling, or possession, according to these marijuana and crime statistics. Of the total number, about 92% were possession-based arrests, while 8% were illicit selling or manufacturing.

7. Someone in the US gets arrested for marijuana every 48 seconds. 


The FBI’s report on the marijuana crime rate says that people get arrested more for marijuana-related crimes than for others such as fraud, burglary, aggravated assault, or sexual offenses.

8. Each year, the United States spends $47 billion on illegal drug arrests.

(Drug Policy)

Even though a 2019 survey indicates the majority of Americans are in favor of decriminalizing marijuana, federal enforcements still follow protocols and regularly arrest people for marijuana-related offenses.

Namely, as these marijuana criminal statistics indicate, the US spends a total of $47 billion to wage the War on Drugs.

Marijuana Violence Statistics

9. Violent crimes fell 13% in states that border Mexico.

(Online Library)

According to these marijuana criminal statistics, states that legalized marijuana have seen a considerable drop in violent crimes.

What’s more:

This could also mean that legalization hurts drug trafficking organizations around the US – Mexico border.

10. Marijuana crime statistics report that 40% of all males arrested for crimes tested positive for marijuana.

(Drug-Free World)

According to these reports, close to half of all men who were arrested were under the influence of marijuana. Since men make up a disproportionately large percentage of offenders, this is one of the more worrying stats you’re likely to come across.

11. In 2017, a total of 2,730 people were sent to federal prisons for marijuana related crimes.

(Drug Abuse Statistics)

Most of them were charged with the illicit manufacturing of marijuana, which is clearly quite widespread.

In contrast, only 92 people were charged with simple marijuana offenses, like possession.

12. On average, 50% of dispensaries are experiencing robberies.

(Reg Tech Consulting)

Dispensary robbery statistics indicate that every other dispensary is burglarized or robbed.

The average amount the thieves walk away with ranges from $20,000 to $50,000 per theft.

Which brings us to the next stat:

13. Cash-only dispensaries are at a higher risk of being robbed or burglarized.

(Statistic Stats)

If anything, these marijuana crime rates show dispensaries that accept only cash are the preferred target to robbers.

This may be due to payment processors not wanting to work with specific dispensaries. So, they don’t have the option of choosing their preferred payment method.

Marijuana Arrests Statistics

14. 12% of all drug-related federal inmates are being held for marijuana-related offenses.

(Drug Abuse Statistics)

The total number of inmates being held for drug-related charges stands at 94,421. Of these, 11,533 inmates are held because of cannabis convictions.

15. 94% of the inmates serving time in federal prisons because of marijuana are male.

(Drug Abuse Statistics)

According to these marijuana incarceration statistics, the overwhelming majority of inmates serving time due to marijuana-related offenses were men.

16. 72.4% of inmates with a possession of marijuana charge are over the age of 30.

(Drug Abuse Statistics)

This is a staggering percentage, to say the least. Nearly three-quarters of incarcerated individuals who were charged with marijuana possession were over the age of 30.

17. There were 599,282 marijuana arrests in 2018.


Even though marijuana busts dropped by about 5,000, there’s no shortage of arrests involving the illicit manufacturing and selling of marijuana.

18. In Baltimore, African-Americans face much higher marijuana incarceration rates.

(Baltimore Sun)

And that’s not all:

While African-American and White men and women use the same amounts of cannabis, incarceration rates vary considerably.

19. Texas is the leading state in terms of the number of marijuana related arrests.


In 2016, there were a total of 64,949 arrests for marijuana-related offenses in the Lone Star State.

98% of them were marijuana possession arrests with up to $2,000 fines and possible jail time of 180 days.

20. Arizona is responsible for 86% of all marijuana convictions.

(Drug Abuse Statistics)

The majority of federal arrests related to marijuana charges happen around the Mexico border.

Arizona is the leading state for marijuana convictions, as statistics indicate up to 86% of all federal sentences have been issued in the Grand Canyon State for marijuana trafficking or possession.

Still have questions we haven’t answered? 

Keep reading.


Q: How many people are in prison on marijuana charges?

The reported number of incarcerated individuals for marijuana charges is believed to be about 600,000 per year.

Marijuana is still illegal by federal law, and only eleven states legalize its use and manufacturing.

However, to legally manufacture and sell marijuana, people would need to obtain a valid license by the state in which they’d like to operate.

92% of these charges are usually possession-based, while the rest are charges of illicit manufacturing or selling of marijuana.

Q: Does legalizing marijuana reduce crime?

Yes. This is true primarily because people will no longer receive charges for marijuana-possession, as is the case at the moment.

Reports indicate that some states are experiencing a decrease in crime rates by 19%. However, recent studies also show that as much as 40% of all crime arrests have tested positive for marijuana influence.

Q: How many prisoners are incarcerated for marijuana-related crimes?

Reports suggest that more than 600,000 people are being arrested for marijuana-related charges each year.

The latest report dates back to 2018 when 663,367 drug arrests occurred. Of those, only 8.2%, or 54,396, were incarcerated for marijuana-related crimes, while the rest were charged with illegal possession of marijuana.

Wrap Up

Even though many states are legalizing marijuana for medical or recreational use, these marijuana criminal statistics show that arrest numbers for marijuana possession are still outpacing other drug-related crimes.

But it’s not all bad news:

While arrest numbers for drug-related crimes are high, those for marijuana-based charges are relatively low.