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.

If you have a criminal conviction in California, you may be eligible to change your record. The Drug Policy Alliance is hosting a series of free fairs to help you through the expungement process.

Attend one of our upcoming fairs.

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.
  • Protects youth under the age of 18 from incarceration or monetary penalties for marijuana offenses. Instead youth may only be charged with infractions and will be required to attend drug awareness education, counseling, and community service. All marijuana offenses will be automatically expunged from a youth’s record when they turn 18.
  • 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.

How to Change Your Record or Sentence

If you have a criminal conviction for marijuana, you may be eligible to change your record or get resentenced.


Individuals with prior marijuana convictions on their criminal record, who are no longer in the criminal justice system (that is, not in jail or prison, or on probation or parole) can apply to the court where they were convicted to have the offense(s) designated as a misdemeanor, infraction, or have it dismissed, no matter how old the conviction(s).

In general, the process for reclassifying your record will not involve a hearing. You should work with a lawyer or legal clinic to assist with the process.

Learn more about how to change a felony to a misdemeanor.

Attend one of our upcoming fairs.

Find forms and information for your county.


People currently serving a sentence in jail or prison or who are on probation or parole for the marijuana offenses affected by Prop. 64 may qualify for resentencing.

The process for getting resentenced (if an individual is in custody) is different than changing your record. A court appearance will generally be required, but an attorney will be assigned to represent you.

If you think you are eligible for resentencing, contact the Public Defender’s office or attorney who represented you during your original case, and he or she can file the petition for you.

Additional Resources

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
As part of Drug Policy Alliance’s work to advance marijuana legalization in California, we produced a Marijuana Enforcement Disparities and Impact Report Series. Rooted in a racial justice lens, this four-part series intended to provide factual information to opinion leaders and the media about the depth and breadth of marijuana law enforcement discrimination in California and the devastating impacts it has had on our most vulnerable communities.

These four reports, some done in partnership or commissioned from leading experts, address Infractions, Arrests, Incarceration, and Deportation.

Marijuana Legalization and Regulation
Reducing the Harms of Marijuana Prohibition