New Report Examines Sentencing Trends For 'Simple Possession Of Marijuana' Offenses

New Report Examines Sentencing Trends For 'Simple Possession Of Marijuana' Offenses

A new report entitled 'Weighing the Impact of Simple Possession of Marijuana' updates a 2016 Commission study regarding sentencing in the Federal System.

Trends in the Federal System: One part of the report, produced by the U.S. Sentencing Commission, assesses trends in federal sentencing for simple possession of marijuana since the fiscal year 2014.

“This report assesses recent trends in simple possession and describes demographic characteristics, criminal history, and sentencing outcomes of federal offenders sentenced for marijuana possession, comparing them to federal offenders sentenced for possession of other drugs,” posted the USSC on its Twitter.

Sentencing in the Federal System: Another part examines how prior sentences for simple possession of marijuana (under both federal and state law) affect criminal history calculations under the federal sentencing guidelines for new federal offenses, per the report.

Some key points:

  • In 2021, there were 4,405 federal offenders who received additional points on their criminal history score because of a cannabis possession conviction
  • This accounts for 8% of all federal cases.
  • Among those offenders who got extra points, 1,765 were placed in a higher criminal history category that comes with an enhanced sentence (h/t Marijuana Moment).
  • Among the 1,765, 42 percent were Black and 40 percent were Hispanic.

The criminal history points assigned under the federal sentencing guidelines for prior marijuana possession sentences resulted in a higher criminal history category for 1,765 of the 4,405 offenders (40%).

Even though marijuana remains strictly scheduled under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), “federal policy regarding marijuana possession appears to be shifting,” per the report.

President Joe Biden announced in October pardons for all federal marijuana possession convictions. Following that movement, the U.S. president also affirmed he wants to see marijuana scheduling review 'as quickly as possible.'

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Posted In: CannabisGovernmentRegulationsPoliticsTop StoriesMarketsGeneralCannabis Possession ConvictionsControlled Substances ActPresident Joe BidenThe U.S. Sentencing Commission


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