Voters in California are slated to decide in November whether to allow fully legal use of marijuana for recreational purposes. The outcome is probably going to a significant influence on marijuana policy in other states, particularly those surrounding, either way it goes.
One of the arguments people have made against legalization of recreational marijuana is that, for the most part, the drug is already legal here. After all, this was the first state to allow medical marijuana 20 years ago, and patients can ask for – and receive – marijuana for just about any condition. State lawmakers also decriminalized possession of small amounts of the drug five years ago, making possession of anything less than an ounce an infraction similar to getting a parking ticket.
However, a new report released by Drug Policy Alliance (a pro-marijuana advocacy group) revealed that between 2006 and 2015, there have been almost half a million arrests on marijuana charges in California. That’s based on figures from the state Department of Justice. And while misdemeanor arrests did fall substantially after the 2011 decriminalization of the drug, there are still thousands of people being arrested on misdemeanor marijuana charges – and thousands more on felony charges, which hardly dropped at all. Continue reading