Marijuana and the Golden State

In November 2016 California voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 64, legalizing the adult use of marijuana in the nation’s most populous state.

As a result, California will reap enormous financial benefits, and many people with marijuana-related misdemeanors and felonies will be able to have their records cleared, freeing them up for new jobs and opportunities.

What does Prop 64 do?

  • Allows adults age 21+ to possess, transport, purchase, consume and share up to one ounce of marijuana and eight grams of marijuana concentrates.
  • Imposes a 15% excise tax on all marijuana sales.
  • Directs tax revenues to the newly established California Marijuana Tax Fund.
  • Greatly reduces – and in many cases, eliminates – criminal penalties for marijuana offenses.
  • Imposes the strictest regulations governing labeling, packaging and testing of marijuana products in the nation. These are designed to protect children from accessing marijuana, and to convey warnings to help adults consume safely.
  • Favors small-scale producers and keeps large corporations from gaining a monopoly.
  • Legalizes industrial hemp production.

The Drug Policy Alliance and its lobbying arm, Drug Policy Action, played a key leadership role in the California campaign—co-drafting the initiative; coordinating the political mobilization, social media, public relations and more; and raising over $5 million to fund the effort. The Drug Policy Alliance will continue to help with the implementation of Prop 64 to ensure California has the most comprehensive legalization framework in the country.

Previous Victories

Medical Marijuana Regulation and Prop 215
In 1996 California became the first state to approve the use of marijuana for medical purposes with the passage of DPA-sponsored Prop 215, the Compassionate Use Act.

This groundbreaking policy paved the way for additional states to pass their own medical marijuana laws. Now, millions of Americans who suffer from cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis and other serious illnesses in California and across the country are no longer criminals under state law for using marijuana as medicine. 

See where medical marijuana is legal.

Exposing Racial Disparities
In 2011 California reduced marijuana possession from a misdemeanor to an infraction. This dramatically reduced marijuana arrests in the golden state, but it did not go far enough.

California law enforcement continued to arrest, prosecute, and incarcerate thousands of people—mostly black and Latino—for marijuana offenses each year. The ACLU and DPA worked together to expose these continuing racial disparities. 

Read the report.

Featured Resources

Marijuana Enforcement Disparities In California: A Racial Injustice
Just a Slap On The Wrist? The Life-Changing Consequences of a Marijuana Arrest
Marijuana Facts
Medical Marijuana