Marijuana Arrests Stable in California Since Passage of Prop. 215

California Marijuana Arrests 1972-2004

Marijuana arrests have held more or less steady in California sinced passage of the state's medical marijuana initiative, Prop. 215, in 1996.

In 2004, California reported 13,106 felony marijuana arrests, up very slightly from 13,022 in 2003.

Misdemeanor offenses declined slightly to 46,931, down from 48,181 in 2003. Juveniles accounted for 26% of misdemeanors, versus 14% of felonies.

African Americans were over-represented by a factor of five among arrestees, of whom they account for 32%, versus 28% for whites and 22% for Hispanics.

Nationally, marijuana arrests have continued to set record levels, reaching 786,545 in 2005. Annual U.S. Arrests, 1965-present.

Marijuana arrests peaked in California during the early 1970s, when possession was still a felony. They plummeted after passage of California's landmark decriminalization law, the Moscone Act of 1975, which made possession a misdemeanor. Arrests dipped along with usage during the late 1980s crack cocaine epidemic, then rebounded in the 1990s.

Both arrests and usage have held more or less constant in California since passage of the state's medical marijuana initiative, Prop. 215, in 1996. The same period has seen a modest 15% decline in marijuana prisoners. The impact of Prop. 215 has been relatively marginal because the bulk of the market remains predominantly non-medical.

2004 data from "Criminal Justice Profiles," Cal. Dept. of Justice Bureau of Criminal Statistics

Cal NORML Release May, 2006

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