This is How Much it Costs to Fight Cannabis Charges

It costs an average of $4,000 for police to bring someone up on cannabis changes - but it could run the defendant as much as $20,000 to fight the case.

It's no secret that a lot of taxpayer money is wasted each year on enforcing unjust marijuana laws. By some estimates, as much as $3.6 billion is spent every year arresting some 820,000 Americans on cannabis-related charges. That means police spend around $4,390 for each arrest.

And there are other costs associated with the War on Drugs that often go unaccounted for. Primarily, the financial burden is placed on the individuals who have to fight these drug charges.

According to a recent report from INSIDER, the legal costs associated with being charged for cannabis possession can be equal, or even greater than the costs for law enforcement. Depending on the state, a person brought up on marijuana charges can expect to personally pay out anywhere between $2,000 and $20,000.

Those numbers break down into as much as $3,000 for lawyer fees and an additional $2,000 to pay for any programs the defendant is forced to partake in as result of the trial. And that's just for misdemeanor crimes.

If you happen to be brought up on a felony cannabis charge, these numbers jump significantly. In this case, legal fees could be as much as $10,000, and when all the other mandatory diversion programs, court fees and other costs are added up, you could be looking at as much as $20,000.

And those are just the immediate costs to individuals.

Research by Harvard sociology professor Bruce Western has shown that incarceration can have a huge impact on a person's financial well-being even after they've done their time. People with criminal records are half as likely to land jobs as those without, and those who do get jobs see their rate of lifetime wage growth reduced by about 30 percent.

That means that, if the average American with a high school diploma will make $1.5 million of the course of their lifetime, people with felony records would miss out on around $300,000 of income over their lifetime.

When you put the lost income of all the Americans brought up on felony cannabis, charges you're looking at a total of around $12 billion in economic damages annually. And that's to say nothing of the total cost to individuals facing misdemeanor crimes, nor the legal fees these people face.

The INSIDER report goes into much more detail about the costs associated with America's broken cannabis laws, and if you're interested in learning more you can check it out here.


When former Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger was sentenced to 10 years in prison for the murder of Botham Jean on October 3, 2019, the public reaction was a combination of relief and exasperation. The case starkly reflects the flaws in the current landscape of American criminal justice: Guyger, who is white, killed Jean, a 26-year-old black man, while he was relaxing after work in his living room. Guyger invoked Texas’ "Stand Your Ground" law, claiming she was justifiably scared for her life when she wandered into his unlocked home after work, mistaking it for hers in the same apartment complex.

Can we see some ID please?

You must be 19 years of age or older to enter.