California Marijuana Arrests Remain Near Record Levels in 2009

Cal NORML Release Sept. 1, 2010

According to data from the Bureau of Criminal Statistics, California reported nearly the same number of marijuana arrests in 2009 as in the previous, record year.

In 2009, there were 17,008 felony and 61,164 misdemeanor marijuana arrests, for a total of 78,172. In 2008, there were 17,126 felonies and 61,388 misdemeanors, for a total of 78,514. This was the highest number of arrests since marijuana was decriminalized in 1976.

Arrests for other drugs have been declining. Narcotics (heroin & cocaine) arrests plummeted to 43,956, down 17% since last year. Arrests for dangerous drugs have fallen 33% since 2006.

A bill to make possession of less than one ounce of marijuana an infraction rather than a misdemeanor, SB 1449 by Sen. Mark Leno, is currently headed to the Governor's desk. The bill would result in some 60,000 fewer misdemeanor cases, saving the state millions of dollars in court & prosecution costs.

- D. Gieringer, Cal NORML