RECORD JUMP IN MARIJUANA ARRESTS IN CALIFORNIA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: 9/19/08
CONTACT: Dale Gieinger, CaNORML 415-563-5858

RECORD JUMP IN MARIJUANA ARRESTS IN CALIFORNIA

California posted a record surge in marijuana arrests in 2007, according to data from the state Criminal Justice Statistics Center.

Altogether, there were 74,119 arrests for marijuana in 2007, up 13% from the year before. This marks the largest number of arrests since marijuana was decriminalized in 1976.

Felony arrests, which involve sales or cultivation, surged 19% to 16,123, the highest level since the height of the drug war in 1990. Misdemeanor arrests, which involve possession, reached an all-time record high of 57,995, up 12% on the year. The U.S. also reported a record number of marijuana arrests (872,721) in 2007.

The surge in felony arrests appears to reflect increased commercial growing. CAMP eradication statistics have soared in recent years; last year saw an all-time record of 2.9 million plants, up from 1.6 million in 2006.

Much of the crop is exported out of state. The vast majority of the commercial crop is non-medical. Just 10% of California's 3 million marijuana consumers are legal Prop. 215 patients. There was no reduction in MJ arrests in California after passage of Prop. 215.

"The record is clear: marijuana is here to stay, and the law can't put a stop to it," says California NORML Coordinator Dale Gieringer. "Taxpayers would be better off to legalize and tax marijuana than to continue wasting money arresting, prosecuting and imprisoning traffickers in an unwinnable, unending war."

Arrests for other drugs declined in 2007 : dangerous drug felonies (mainly methamphetamine) dropped substantially for the second year in a row to 71,143 (down 15% from 2006); and narcotics felonies declined to 55,078 (down 2%).

See graph.

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