Total Annual Arrests in the US by Type of Offense

In 2018, law enforcement agencies in the US made an estimated 10,310,960 arrests for all offenses, of which 1,654,282 were drug arrests.

Although the intent of a 'War on Drugs' may have been to target drug smugglers and 'King Pins,' of the 1,654,282 arrests for drug law violations in 2018, 86.4% (1,429,300) were for mere possession of a controlled substance. Only 13.6% (224,982) were for the sale or manufacturing of a drug. Further, 40.1% of drug arrests in 2018 were for marijuana offenses -- a total of 663,367. Of those, an estimated 608,776 arrests (36.8% of all drug arrests) were for marijuana possession alone. By contrast in 2000, a total of 734,497 Americans were arrested for marijuana offenses, of which 646,042 (40.9%) were for possession alone.

Click here to open table displaying Total Annual Arrests in the US by Year and Type of Offense, 1996-2017


"Crime in the United States 2018 - Arrests," FBI Uniform Crime Report (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice, September 2019), p. 2, and Arrest Table: Arrests for Drug Abuse Violations.
"Crime in the United States - 2000," FBI Uniform Crime Reports (Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 2001), p. 216, Tables 29 and 4.1.