Marijuana Arrests in CA Drop 56% Following Passage of Prop. 64; Felony Arrests Drop 74%

July 9, 2018 - According to the Attorney General's annual crime report for 2017, arrests for marijuana offenses dropped precipitously in California following the passage of Proposition 64, which legalized the recreational use for adults in November 2016. A total of 6,065 marijuana arrests took place in 2017, versus 13,810 arrests in 2016, a drop of 56%.

Felony arrests for marijuana fell a whopping 74% to 2,086 in 2017 from 7,949 in 2016. Under Prop 64, the majority of felony offenses were reduced to misdemeanors. Felony arrests have plummeted from 13,300 since 2014.

Whites accounted for 24% of felony arrests, while Hispanics (40%) and African-Americans (21%) were again disproportionately arrested (Table 31). The greatest percentage of felony arrests were for those aged 20-29 (39%, or 815 arrests) (Table 32); this age bracket was the most arrested for all ethnic groups (Table 33).

A total of 3,979 misdemeanor marijuana arrests took place in California in 2017 (Table 34). This is a drop from 5,861 misdemeanor arrests in 2016. It remains unknown how many are issued citations for possessing under an ounce of cannabis, since that was decriminalized in 2011.

Once again for misdemeanors, Hispanics represented the highest percentage of arrestees (46%), followed by Whites (29%) and Blacks (13%) (Table 34).

Those under 18 were much more likely to see misdemeanor marijuana arrests, making up nearly 45% of arrestees, or 1,785 persons (Table 35). For Hispanics, 984 persons under 18 were arrested for misdemeanors, 728 of them male and 256 female (Table 36).

Arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs fell again in 2017, to 119,354 from 125,923 in 2016. Those numbers have been dipping since 2012, when the number was 170,316. (Table 25).

Remaining a crime in California despite legalization includes: possession of more than one ounce of marijuana, cultivation of more than six plants, sales or manufacture with a volatile solvent without a license, and providing to minors. (Health & Safety Codes 11357(a), 11358, 11358(d), 11359, 11359(c), 11359(d), 11360(a), 11361(a), 11361(b), 11362.4(d).)

Also see: Yearly California Arrest and Prisoner Data