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California Marijuana Legalization Led to Huge Drop in Arrests

California already had pretty liberal marijuana laws prior to officially legalizing recreational marijuana, but the new laws still saw a massive drop in cannabis arrests.

According to California Attorney General Xavier Bacerra, marijuana arrests decreased by 56 percent in 2017, the first year where recreational marijuana was legal in the state, compared to 2016. And felony marijuana arrests decreased by 74 percent. 

Proposition 64, the ballot initiative that legalized recreational marijuana in California, did lower penalties for many cannabis offenses. Many felonies became misdemeanors and many misdemeanors became outright legal, which probably contributes to the arrest numbers. Some of the crimes being prosecuted in the past simply don't exist anymore. Others say law enforcement simply doesn't even want to bother with marijuana arrests anymore because the penalties are so low it's not worth their time. 

However some people note there are still some flaws. Minorities are still targeted more often in marijuana arrests despite statistics showing that pretty much all races use cannabis at the same rate.

Some anti-marijuana advocates said the arrest data wasn't unusual, and that other factors such as driving while high were more important things to look at. However the new stats also showed that DUIs in California dropped by five percent in 2017 as well. So even if more people are using marijuana, it so far hasn't had any affect on DUIs.

(h/t Mercury News)


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