Prop 64's Immediate Impact on Cannabis Arrests

To many observers, Prop 64 meant the instantaneous legalization of recreational cannabis, but the passage of Prop 64 came with many other tenets, one of them a change in cannabis criminal justice. This lesser known pillar of the ballot measure amended California Health and Safety Code to reduce the offense degree for numerous state statutes, making felonies into misdemeanors and misdemeanors into non-offenses or fines. 

While there are many problems facing the burgeoning legal market in California – namely high tax rates and local lock out – people no longer have to worry about their records being tarnished or being thrown in jail for possession of insignificant amounts of cannabis. In California, the fight over whether war on drugs high marijuana related arrest counts are ‘good’ for society has been won.

In July the California Attorney General’s Office released its annual crime report, finally allowing the public to recognize the adjustments to California cannabis criminal justice that Prop 64 begot. Similar to the change in numbers in 2015 that came after the passage of Prop 47 in 2014 (which made most personal drug use crimes misdemeanors), 2017 saw a steep decline in marijuana related arrests.

Marijuana felony arrests dropped from 7,949 to 2,086 from 2016 to 2017 and misdemeanors dropped from 5,861 to 3,979. That means total marijuana arrests fell from 13,810 to 6,065, a 56% drop!

A high percentage of arrests are still of persons of colour (77% of felony arrests and 70% of misdemeanors); however, the overall reduction in arrests bodes well for Prop 64’s effectiveness in alleviating the strain marijuana crimes have placed on many disadvantaged communities.

Along with reducing the offense degrees for marijuana crimes, Prop 64 allows you to retroactively change your record, whether that’s getting a felony charge changed to a misdemeanor or your record expunged altogether. If you need help navigating the California justice system to get a marijuana offense off your record Scot Candell & Associates is only a phone call away.  


For more on California crime rates see the California Dept. of Justic 2017 Crime Report: HERE

CaNORML also ran down more of the arrest numbers: HERE