A total of 3,534 offenders received sentences for federal marijuana crimes in 2016. The overwhelming majority of these cases — 3,398 of them — involved trafficking marijuana. Another 122 individuals received federal sentences for simple possession of marijuana, although some of these offenders may have pleaded down from a more serious offense.
The commission’s statistics show that more than 97 percent of people charged with a federal crime plead guilty, rather than go to trial.
Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize recreational marijuana in 2012. The data show a sharp drop in the number of federal marijuana sentences the following year, down from 6,992 to 4,942.