The intent of minimum sentencing laws was to get to the drug king pins, but these folks are also the ones with expensive lawyers who know how to bargain. The ones who do get nailed are low-level, non-violent drug offenders who cannot provide helpful information to the government or afford top-notch legal help..
According to the Department of Justice, over half of all sentenced federal prisoners are drug offenders. Over 80% of the increase in the federal prison population was due to drug convictions between 1985 and 1995. In addition, a 2006 report claimed that 17% of State prisoners and 18% of Federal prisoners committed their crimes in order to obtain drug money. According to a 2001 report, the average sentence for all offenses was 56.8 months. The average sentence for drug offenses was 75.6 months, while the average sentence for violent offenses was 63.0 months.
Someone is arrested for violating a drug law every 17 seconds. Someone is arrested for violating a cannabis law every 38 seconds.
Over $19 billion was spent on the war on drugs by the federal government in 2003, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy. This equates to $600 per second. Another $30 billion was spent by state and local governments.
According to the Schaffer Library of Drug Policy, it costs approximately $450,000 to put a single drug dealer in jail. This cost includes the costs of arrest, conviction, room, and board.