CA NORML Costs of Prohibition


Marijuana Arrests in California - 2001

California reported 60,481 marijuana arrests in 2001. This represents a 3% decline from 2000, the second year in a row that arrests have decreased slightly. The decline was primarily due to an 8% drop in the number of felony arrests for distribution and cultivation to 11,986. The number of misdemeanor possession arrests declined slightly by 2% to 48,495.

The decline may reflect decreasing public concern about marijuana, as well as a growing population of legal medical marijuana users. California NORML estimates that there were over 30,000 legal Prop. 215 patients in the state as of May 2001, or 2% of the state's estimated population of 1.46 million monthly users.

The nation also registered a slight decline in marijuana arrests to 723,627 in 2001, 1% short of its all-time record high in 2000.

Blacks are heavily over-represented among California's arrestees, being almost five times as likely to be arrested for marijuana felonies than the general population.

California's per capita arrest rate for marijuana is 31% lower than the nation at large. Some 5.7% of all Californians have used marijuana in the past month, slightly more than the national average of 4.8%, according to surveys by SAMHSA.

Marijuana Arrests in California, 2001 (Source: Bureau of Criminal Statistics)

Marijuana Arrests 2001
Number
Male %
Female %
White %
Latino %
Black%
Other %
Felony: adult
9,991
89.0

11.0

36.7
26.1
32.7
4.2
Felony: juvenile
1,995
91.2
8.8
33.4
37.4
22.6
6.6
Felony Total
11,986

89.4

10.6
36.2
28.0
31.1
4.6
Misdemeanor: adult
33,941
89.2
10.8
43.5
31.2
20.8
4.4
Misdemenor: juvenile
14,544
85.4
14.6
40.0
44.3
10.7
5.1
Misdemeanor. Total

48,495

88.0

12.0

42.4
35.2
17.8
4.6

NOTE: The number of marijuana arrests in California climbed steadily until the enactment of the Moscone decriminalization act in 1976, which reduced possession from a felony to a misdemeanor. The Moscone Act is estimated to have saved the state some $100 million per year in arrest and court costs (Source: Aldrich & Mikuriya, "Savings in California Marijuana Law Enforcement Costs Attributable to the Moscone Act of 1976 - A Summary," Journal of Psychoactive Drugs 20(1): 75-81, 1988). Arrests have held more or less steady in recent years, following a dip around 1990 when marijuana was displaced by the crack cocaine epidemic.


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