Total Annual Arrests in the US by Type of Offense

In 2019, law enforcement agencies in the US made an estimated 10,085,207 arrests for all offenses, of which 1,558,862 were drug arrests.

Although the intent of a 'War on Drugs' may have been to target drug smugglers and 'King Pins,' of the 1,558,862 arrests for drug law violations in 2019, 86.7% (1,351,533) were for mere possession of a controlled substance. Only 13.3% (207,329) were for the sale or manufacturing of a drug. Further, 35.0% of drug arrests in 2019 were for marijuana offenses -- a total of 545,602. Of those, an estimated 500,395 arrests (32.1% 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.

Table: Total Annual Arrests in the US by Year and Type of Offense, 1996-2019


"Crime in the United States 2019 - Arrests," FBI Uniform Crime Report (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice, September 2020), 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.