This could very well be the biggest year for recreational cannabis in the history of the United States. There will be at least 6 states with legalization on the ballot in 2016, which could potentially more than double the number of states with recreational cannabis. As of now, the four states that have legalized are Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington. California is one of the most promising looking states for legalizing in the upcoming election. Over 60 percent of Californians surveyed said they support Prop 64 to legalize recreational cannabis, but many are wondering why it took so long to legalize cannabis in a state that seems so 420 friendly. A big part of that answer has to do with the old saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Since California has had such lenient medical marijuana guidelines since 1996, and the state decriminalized the possession of small amounts back in 2011, many believe that cannabis in California has essentially already been legalized. Unfortunately, there’s some new data on cannabis arrests in California that tells a very different story.
While many people in California have found that the medical marijuana scene makes it very easy for them to slide under the cops’ radar, others have not been quite so lucky. Decriminalizing the possession of under an ounce of cannabis in 2011 has certainly greatly reduced the number of marijuana related misdemeanors, but there’s still a startling number of people that are getting arrested for cannabis in California. In fact, according to a new report from the Drug Policy Alliance, thousands upon thousands of people are still getting busted for pot in California each year. Misdemeanor charges may have plummeted, but they are still fairly prevalent and marijuana felonies haven’t decreased at all. This has led to nearly 500,000 people still being arrested for cannabis in the last 10 years. Misdemeanor charges are certainly still happening on a fairly regular basis, for things like possession of concentrates, possessing over an ounce, or supplying someone else with cannabis. Felony charges are usually for when someone is caught growing or selling cannabis outside of the legal medicinal industry.
Cannabis in California is certainly working well for the majority of people that want to partake right now. Which is why many people would prefer to keep things as they are, rather than risk letting the greed in politics take a swing at legalizing recreational cannabis and have it come back to bite us in the ass. This new report shows that there are still plenty of people in our state that the medicinal system is not working for, and it appears to be affecting some groups disproportionately. Despite the fact that white people and black people both use and sell cannabis at similar rates in California, black people are arrested for cannabis charges 4 times as often. If Prop 64 passes, many of the things that people are still getting in trouble for in California will finally be legalized. Growing up to six plants in your home, possessing concentrates, and giving weed to your friends would all become perfectly legal. So while many of us Californians don’t expect to see our lives change too much whether it passes or not, there are thousands of others that have much more at stake.