Proposition 64 – Marijuana Legalization

Proposition 64 changes state law to legalize adult nonmedical use of marijuana; creates a system for regulating nonmedical marijuana businesses; imposes taxes on marijuana; and changes penalties for marijuana-related crimes.
Proposition 64 was approved by California voters on November 8, 2016. It changed penalties for future marijuana crimes, and changed state marijuana penalties. For example, possession of one ounce or less of marijuana was previously punishable by a $100 fine. In addition, selling marijuana for nonmedical purposes was punishable by up to four years in state prison or county jail. Under the new law, if under the age of 18, an individual would instead be required to attend a drug education or counseling program and complete community service. 
Also, selling marijuana without a license would be a crime generally punishable by up to six months in county jail and/or a fine of up to $500. Individuals engaging in any marijuana business activity without a license would be subject to a civil penalty of up to three times the amount of the license fee for each violation. The penalties for driving a vehicle while under the impairment of marijuana would remain the same. The new law requires the destruction of criminal records for individuals arrested or convicted for certain marijuana-related offenses within the past two years.

How the new law affects inmates in prison for marijuana crimes
  • Individuals previously convicted of marijuana crimes who are currently serving a state prison sentence for activities that are now legal or are subject to lesser penalties are eligible to petition for resentencing.
  • A court will not be required to resentence someone if it determined that the person was likely to commit certain severe crimes.
  • Qualifying individuals will be resentenced to whatever punishment they would have received under the new law.
  • Resentenced individuals currently in jail or prison will be subject to community supervision (such as probation) for up to one year following their release, unless a court removes that requirement.
  • Individuals who have completed sentences for crimes that are reduced by the measure can apply to the courts to have their criminal records changed.
  • No inmates from state prison will be automatically resentenced or released. Courts will determine whether an inmate meets the eligibility criteria and poses an unreasonable risk of danger to public safety.
Offender eligibility
As of Oct. 31, 2016, CDCR estimates that approximately 1,449 offenders under the department’s supervision (inmates and parolees) would be eligible to petition a court for resentencing.  The courts would then determine whether an inmate poses an unreasonable risk to public safety.
The resentencing process
Offenders must petition the court in which they were sentenced to have their felony marijuana-related convictions reduced. County courts would conduct resentencing hearings after determining whether the offender’s criminal history would make him/her eligible for resentencing. Under the new law, the court would be required to resentence eligible offenders unless it determines that resentencing would pose an unreasonable risk of danger to public safety.
In exercising its discretion, the court may consider all of the following:
  • Criminal history, including the type of crimes committed, the extent of injury to victims and the length of prior prison commitments
  • Disciplinary record and record of rehabilitation while incarcerated
  • Other evidence relevant to determine the risk to public safety
Offenders whose requests for resentencing are denied by the courts would continue to serve out their terms as originally sentenced.
How will inmates become aware of the law change?
CDCR has identified the inmates who may be affected and has a process to educate them about the law change, including plans to:
  • Provide information in prison law libraries
  • Post notices in housing units
  • Broadcast information on prison video channels
  • Notify Inmate Advisory Council representatives
All information would be provided in English and Spanish. 
For additional information, please contact Albert Rivas at or Matthew Westbrook at or call the Office of External Affairs at (916) 445-4950.