Federal Marijuana Offenses Dropped Sharply In 2021, Says New Report

The number of federal offenders charged with marijuana-related crimes in 2021 plummeted as compared to recent years, says a new report. This sharp decline shows that despite the federal illegality, mainstream acceptance of cannabis is catching up at a federal level.

According to data compiled by the US Sentencing Commission in its 2021 Annual Report and reported by NORML, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit focused on marijuana legalization, just under 1,000 people were charged federally with violating marijuana laws in 2021. This figure constituted less than six percent of those charged with violating federal drug laws that year. By contrast, ten years ago, federal officials charged nearly 7,000 people with marijuana offenses. That was greater than the number of people charged with any other drug violation. By 2016, that number fell to fewer than 3,500 people. The total has continued to fall steadily since then.

On the marked drop of federal offenders charged with marijuana-related offenses, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano encouraged lawmakers to walk the talk when it comes to legalization. “Although Congress has failed to amend federal cannabis laws, clearly the attitudes and priorities of federal prosecutors have shifted in the era of state-level marijuana legalization,” he said in a public statement. “Now it’s time for federal lawmakers to codify these changes in priorities by descheduling marijuana.”

Morgan Fox, NORML’s political director, echoed Armentano’s sentiments. Fox urged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to hold a floor vote on the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expunge Act, otherwise known as the MORE Act, which would decriminalize marijuana. Fox also exhorted Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer “sticks to his planned April introduction of the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act.” The latter bill, if passed, would legalize and regulate cannabis on the federal level.

Here’s an interesting statistic, as noted by NORML: 31 percent of all federal offenders in 2021 were charged with drug violations. This is a jump from about 26 percent in 2020. However, under half of all people charged with federal drug offenses in 2021 were prosecuted for trafficking methamphetamine.

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Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/irisdorbian/2022/03/29/federal-marijuana-offenses-dropped–sharply-in-2021-says-new-report/