A new Drug Policy Alliance report, “It’s Not Legal Yet: Nearly 500,000 Marijuana Arrests in California in the Last Decade,” says cops continue to arrest people in the Golden State for cannabis-related offenses despite relaxed laws and enforcement.
The report says there have been 465,873 marijuana arrests between 2006 and 2015 in California.
While misdemeanor pot arrests plummeted after 2011, felony arrests remained stable – and they continued to affect minorities the most, the report found.
2011 is when a bill making possession of an ounce or less of marijuana an infraction (basically you’d get a $100 ticket) went into effect. Misdemeanor arrests decreased 86 percent.
But the report decries the imbalance of law enforcement efforts when it comes to black and Latino Californians facing marijuana-related cases, especially felony ones. The DPA says African-Americans in the Golden State were three-and-a-half times more likely to be arrested for pot than whites in 2015; Latinos were arrested 35 percent more often than whites for cannabis-related allegations last year, the report said.
The news comes as Californians will vote on recreational marijuana legalization – Prop. 64 – in November.
“While many people believe that marijuana is essentially legal in California, data show us that thousands continue to be arrested annually for marijuana activities,” said attorney Jolene Forman of the DPA. “These arrests fall disproportionately on black and Latino Californians. The only way to begin to repair these disparities is to move marijuana into a fully regulated market and to reduce or eliminate criminal prohibitions for minor marijuana activities.”