California Reports Record Numbers Of Marijuana Prisoners

The number of marijuana offenders in California state prisons has increased to its highest level in history, according to the latest statistics from the Department of Corrections. As of December 31, 1995, 1,572 prisoners were serving time for marijuana felonies, up 18 percent from one year previously.

The new figures appear to belie recent claims that the war on marijuana in California has let up. California now has two and a half times more marijuana prisoners than in the early l970s, before possession was decriminalized from a felony to a misdemeanor, and 15 times as many marijuana prisoners as at the record low in 1980. An unknown number of additional prisoners are serving time in county jails. Nonetheless, recent surveys indicate that marijuana usage is rising — especially among adolescents — suggesting strongly that harsh penalties are not an effective deterrent in marijuana consumption.

For more information, please contact Dale Gieringer of California NORML at (415) 563-5858.