After voters in California approved Prop 64 back in November, local policymakers shifted their focus towards loosening the laws against recreational cannabis use. While penalties for minor pot crimes have been effectively eliminated, there is still a number of Californians who remain behind bars on marijuana-related federal charges.
According to a study conducted by the Drug Policy Alliance, in 2015 alone, more than 2,100 people in California were incarcerated for offenses strictly pertaining to cannabis. After recreational legalization was approved, hundreds of these prisoners have filed petitions to have their charges dropped. Additionally, a number of pending cannabis-related cases that would have resulted in jail time were overturned.
While many of these inmates have seen success in these cases, those jailed for federal charges have not received the same leniency. Although data on the amount of Californians doing time for cannabis-related federal crimes is currently unknown, drug policy experts estimate that hundreds remain locked up. In many cases, these prisoners are serving sentences that are 20 years or longer.