If you went to prison last year for a federal drug crime in America, you’re more likely to have gone there for crimes related to cannabis than heroin. That’s according to an annual report from the United States Sentencing Commission.
Though federal convictions for marijuana have decreased over the last several years, the number of federal convictions for marijuana crimes still far outstrip those for heroin crimes. While 2,830 were convicted in federal court for heroin charges, 3,534 were put in jail for cannabis.
Those aren’t all for drug trafficking charges either. Even those only convicted for simple possession of cannabis still outnumber those found guilty of possessing heroin. While 122 people were convicted in federal court of possessing marijuana, only 16 were found guilty of heroin possession.
Federal sentences for crack cocaine were peanuts compared to ones for cannabis, with only 1,582 crack convictions. Meanwhile, powder cocaine convictions were nearly neck and neck with cannabis ones, but edged them out at 3,891.
Methamphetamines took the cake last year year with 6,626 federal convictions.
Though cannabis is now legal in some form in 28 states plus the District of Columbia, most of the charges in federal court are for crimes state laws can’t condone, namely trafficking them across state lines. But one wonders why federal authorities are spending their energy catching weed traffickers over the ones bringing heroin in. Or are the weed traffickers just easier to catch?
While cannabis convictions are more plentiful than those for heroin or crack, the sentences are much shorter. The report from the USSC shows that while the average sentence for a marijuana crime is 28 months, the average for heroin is 68, the average for cocaine is 74, for crack it’s 84, and methamphetamine still tops out at 90 months.
Photo via Flickr user Alexander C. Kafka