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Feds Still Jail More People for Cannabis Than Heroin

March 14, 2017
Fence with barbed wire - great for topics like prison, military facility, no escape/ trapped concept.
According to data released this week by the US Sentencing Commission, the number of people sentenced for federal cannabis-related crimes has dropped for the fifth year in a row. Federal prosecutors are still jailing more people for cannabis-related crimes than heroin-related ones, however, despite radical disparities in harm caused by the two substances.

Heroin-related overdose deaths in the United States have more than quadrupled since 2010. 2014 was especially deadly: The number of heroin-related deaths was the highest number of drug overdose deaths on record, climbing to nearly 50,000 in just a single year.

The number of deaths directly attributed to cannabis remains at zero.

 

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According to the sentencing report, 3,534 people were sentenced in federal courts for cannabis crimes. That fell behind sentencing numbers for only two other substances: methamphetamine, with more than 6,000 people sentenced, and powder cocaine, with 3,891.

The report included five specifically identified substances and one “other” category.

On the upside, the data show a sharp decline in federal cannabis crimes, which set in shortly after Colorado and Washington voted to end prohibition, in 2012. In 2011, there were around 7,000 federal arrests related to cannabis. After legalization went through in those two states, the annual number fell to 4,942. It now sits at 3,534.

Over at the Washington Post, they’ve captured the federal data in this at-a-glance graph:

drugsimage

Gage Peake's Bio Image

Gage Peake

Gage Peake is a former staff writer for Leafly, where he specialized in data journalism, sports, and breaking news coverage. He's a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's College of Journalism and Mass Communications.

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  • lovingc

    Nether should be jailed. There is no scientific bases fro cannabis to be illegal, and putting an addict in jail is not a good way to rehab them it is more likely to confirm their addiction was better. The only way to actually control drugs is to legalize them regulate the sales and use and emphasize the availability of recovery options. The four states that have legalized cannabis have already cut the import of cannabis from mexico has dropped more than 32% in 2014, just two years after Colorado legalized. Legalization works. If you don’t believe it would do the same for other drugs look at the experience of Portugal they have legalized all and the have lower rates of use on all drugs than we have here.