California Marijuana Arrests Remain Near Record Levels


Photo: The November Coalition
Near-record numbers arrested for marijuana again in 2009… Hey, California! It’s time to STOP! Kandice Hawes of Orange County NORML protests the madness.

​The next time somebody tells you Prop 19 isn’t needed because “marijuana is already practically legal in California,” call ’em on their bullshit. California reported nearly the same number of marijuana arrests in 2009 as in the previous year, which set a record all-time high for pot busts.

In 2009, there were 17,008 felony and 61,164 misdemeanor marijuana arrests in California, for a total of 78,172.
In 2008, there were 17,126 marijuana felonies and 61,388 misdemeanors, for a total of 78,514. This was the highest number of marijuana arrests since pot was decriminalized in California in 1976, according to Dale Gieringer of California NORML.
“The record is clear that the war on marijuana has failed,” Gieringer told Toke of the Town Wednesday afternoon.

Photo: Cal NORML
Dale Gieringer, Cal NORML: “The record is clear that the war on marijuana has failed”

​”Since marijuana was prohibited in California in 1913, arrests have soared to near-record levels with no end in sight,” Gieringer told us. “Prop 19 would save the state hundreds of millions of dollars now spent on arresting, prosecuting and imprisoning marijuana offenders.”
Even as pot busts zoom to the stratosphere, other drug arrests have been falling.
Heroin and cocaine arrests plummeted to 43,956, down 17 percent from the year before. Arrests for these dangerous drugs have fallen 33 percent since 2006.
Legislature Passes Decrim Bill
On Monday, August 30, members of the California Assembly approved Senate Bill 1449 by a vote of 43-33. The bill, by Sen. Mark Leno, would make possession of less than an ounce of marijuana an infraction rather than a misdemeanor, and is now headed to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s desk.
If the Governator signs it, the bill would result in some 60,000 fewer misdemeanor marijuana cases in California every year, saving the state millions of dollars in court and prosecution costs, according to Gieringer.
California residents can emailwrite or call Gov. Schwarzenegger and urge him to sign SB 1449 into law.