possession

People Serving Time in Federal Prisons in the US For Whom Drug Possession is the Most Serious Offense

The US Dept. of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that on Sept. 30, 2012, there were a total of 187,773 people sentenced and serving time in US federal prison for any offense. Of those, 97,214 people (51.8% of the total) had as their most serious charge a drug offense: 96,907 of them for drug trafficking or manufacture (51.6% of the total), 296 for drug possession (0.16% of the total), and 11 for "other"* drug offenses.

46,000 People in State Prisons in the US Whose Most Serious Offense was Drug Possession

The US Dept. of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that at yearend 2014, 1,316,409 people were serving sentences in state prisons in the US, of whom 206,300 (15.7%) had as their most serious offence a drug charge: 46,000 for drug possession (3.5% of all state prison inmates), and 160,300 for "other" drug offences, including manufacturing and sale (12.2% of all state prison inmates).

Annual Number of Arrests for Drug Offenses in the US By Type of Offense and Substance Type

Annual Number of Arrests for Drug Offenses in the US By Type of Offense:In an analysis of a subset of the UCR's arrest data, police agencies in the US covering an estimated 2016 population of 250,017,636 people reported a total of 1,186,810 arrests for drug law violations in 2016, of which 1,004,762 (84.7%) were for possession of a controlled substance. Only 182,048 (15.3%) were for the sale or manufacturing of a drug. Of the 182,048 sale/manufacture arrests that year, 64,288 (5.42% of total) were for heroin, cocaine, or their derivatives; 49,714 (4.19% of total) were for marijuana; 19,163 (1.61% of total) were for synthetic narcotics; and 48,883 (4.12%) were for other non-narcotic drugs. Of the 1,004,762 arrests for possession that year, 241,806 (20.37% of total) were for heroin, cocaine, or their derivatives; 443,454 (37.37% of total) were for marijuana; 61,183 (5.16% of total) were for synthetic narcotics; and 258,319 (21.77%) were for other non-narcotic drugs.

Total Annual Drug Arrests In The United States By Offense Type

Total Annual Drug Arrests in the US, by Type, as reported by the FBI's annual Uniform Crime Report
2016: The FBI estimated that there were 1,572,579 arrests for drug law violations in the US in 2016. The FBI, for the first time in many years, did not provide a breakdown of that figure by offense type. In an analysis of a subset of the UCR's arrest data, police agencies in the US covering an estimated 2016 population of 250,017,636 people reported a total of 1,186,810 arrests for drug law violations, of which 84.7% (1,004,762) were for possession of a controlled substance. Only 15.3% (182,048) were for the sale or manufacturing of a drug.
2015: Of the 1,488,707 arrests for drug law violations in 2015, 83.9% (1,249,025) were for possession of a controlled substance. Only 16.1% (239,682) were for the sale or manufacturing of a drug.
2014: Of the 1,561,231 arrests for drug law violations in 2014, 83.1% (1,297,384) were for possession of a controlled substance. Only 16.9% (263,848) were for the sale or manufacturing of a drug.

Total Annual Arrests in the US by Offense Type in 2016 Compared With 1973

Total Annual Number of Arrests in the US, 1973 and 2015: In 1973, there were 328,670 arrests reported by the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) for drug law violations, out of a total 9,027,700 arrests nationwide for all offenses. Also that year, authorities reported 380,560 arrests for all violent crimes and 1,448,700 arrests for all property offenses.
In 2016, there were 1,572,579 arrests for drug law violations out of a total 10,662,252 arrests nationwide for all offenses. Also in 2016, authorities reported 515,151 arrests for all violent crimes and 1,353,283 arrests for all property offenses.