Newly released 2004 data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics indicate that almost 45,000 people are serving time in state or federal prisons for marijuana offenses. They represent about 12 percent of drug offenders in state prisons and 13 percent of drug offenders in federal prisons. These are similar to the numbers used by Chuck Thomas in a 1998 Marijuana Policy Project report; he estimated there were another 7,200 or so marijuana offenders in local jails.
These figures show it's not true that no one serves time for marijuana, as drug warriors sometimes imply. But since marijuana accounts for almost half of drug arrests, they also confirm that marijuana offenses are much less likely to result in jail or prison time than offenses involving other drugs.