Marijuana Crimes in California

Arrest Data and Statistics for Marijuana-Related Offenses


In November 2016, California legalized the possession and recreational use of marijuana for individuals over the age of 21. While the number of felony arrests for marijuana dropped significantly from 2015 – 2020, over 1000 people are still arrested each year. 

According to data from the California Department of Justice in 2015, there were 8,866 felony arrests for marijuana-related offenses, representing almost 20% of the total drug offense arrests for the year. After legalization, the 2017 felony arrests dropped to 2,086 accounting for just 7% of the total felony drug arrests for the year. By 2020, the number has dropped to 1,027, or 4% of the total number of felony drug offense arrests.

Adult and Juvenile Felony Arrests for Marijuana

Data shows that of the 1,027 arrests for marijuana-related offenses in 2020, 95.8% of them were adults and 4.2% were juveniles. This is up slightly compared to previous years where the arrests were between 90% – 92% adults. 

For example in 2019, there were a total of 1,181 felony marijuana arrests, 1,090 of which were adult offenders. This accounted for 92.3% of the total arrests. The other 91 felony marijuana arrests were juveniles.

Misdemeanor Marijuana Offenses

In 2020, there were 2,973 misdemeanor arrests for marijuana-related offenses. The vast majority of the offenders were male (2,497 or 84%). The age group most often arrested for misdemeanor marijuana crimes was 20-29 years old. That age group accounted for 35.8% of all misdemeanor marijuana arrests in 2020. 

Drug Patch Testing

It is important to remember that while the recreational use of marijuana is legal in California. There are still crimes related to driving under the influence of the drug, limitations on possession and use. If you are concerned about a loved one’s use of marijuana, a transdermal drug patch can be used to detect drug use. The drug patch is worn 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to prevent “missed tests” or diluted samples. It is non-invasive and requires no urine or hair follicle sampling.