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California Governor Signs Marijuana Decriminalization Bill


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California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ® Thursday signed into law a bill that decriminalizes the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana. The bill reduces simple possession from a misdemeanor to an infraction.

Currently, small-time pot possession is "semi-decriminalized" in California. There is no possible jail sentence and a maximum $100 fine. But because possession is a misdemeanor, people caught with pot are "arrested," even if that means only they are served a notice to appear, and they must appear before a court.

That has happened to more than a half million Californians in the last decade, and more than 60,000 last year alone. Every one of them required a court appearance, complete with judge and prosecutor. That costs the cash-strapped state money it desperately needs.

Under the bill signed today, SB 1449, by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), pot possession will be treated like a traffic ticket. The fine will remain at $100, and there will be no arrest record.

In a signing statement, Schwarzenegger said he opposed decriminalization for personal use—and threw in a gratuitous jab at Proposition 19, the tax and regulate marijuana legalization initiative—but that the state couldn't afford the status quo.

"I am signing this measure because possession of less than an ounce of marijuana is an infraction in everything but name," said Schwarzenegger. "The only difference is that because it is a misdemeanor, a criminal defendant is entitled to a jury trial and a defense attorney. In this time of drastic budget cuts, prosecutors, defense attorneys, law enforcement, and the courts cannot afford to expend limited resources prosecuting a crime that carries the same punishment as a traffic ticket."

"Gov. Schwarzenegger deserves credit for sparing the state's taxpayers the cost of prosecuting minor pot offenders," said California NORML director Dale Gieringer. "Californians increasingly recognize that the war on marijuana is a waste of law enforcement resources."

The law goes into effect January 1. Even if Prop 19 passes in November, it leaves in place misdemeanor charges for smoking in public or in the presence of minors. Those misdemeanors would become infractions under the new law.

Sacramento, CA

United States

California Governor Signs Marijuana Decriminalization Bill | StoptheDrugWar.org

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Really it should only be a misdemeanor at most. That is coming from a person that has never smoked it. However if I had cancer or something else that it was useful in treating hell yea I would use it.

I don't think a politician that has no medical background is qualified to made laws related to medical decisions. If a doctor says you need it, that is good enough for me. If it eases the pain of someone on their death bed, give it to them. What are they going to do, get hooked on it.

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Why is this a fail? This is a way for a bankrupt state to free funds by not having to deal with stupid court costs over something so petty. All states should follow their example on this.

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what is really sad is that not too long ago people were sent to prison with very long sentences for simple possession. Heck there are probably still some locked away.

Legalize it and tax it.

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90% of the cases in criminal court these days, at least around here are drug related. So i'm all for takeing it easy on the dopeheads. Wanna get high? Go for it.. NOBODY cares!

Maybe one day it will all be legal.

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Legalize it and tax it.

The main reason I believe it is illegal is because it is not taxed. I agree. Tax it to pay for health care, win win ?

I wonder if the Feds will sue California the way it has Arizona using the claim of federal preemption.

No, they will just say the Federal law trumps and they can still arrest people. Like when they made medical marijuana legal, federal law still could arrest people. The state left them alone but the feds could still go in and bust them, at least at first. I don't know the current rules.

Look at all the cost and effort they put into weed control. Defense lawyers, trial by jury, time in the court rooms, then having to house them for several years after words for such a minor thing.

example.

I have a cousin facing a 5 year felony for selling marijuana right now.

He was 18, a girl 17 gave him money and ask him to buy her some. He did. She took it to school got caught with it and gave him up as the source. Since she was under age, she got nothing. He got suspended on her word. They called in the LEO, he thought he was doing the right thing, confused. DEA raided his moms house, found nothing else.

From what I gather, the girl was caught with about 1 once of pot. I think it was in Arkansas. I am not very close with that part of the family and they live in 3 states back and forth.

Also found out her, her Boyfriend is already in jail before this happened on drug charges.

Seems she is true jailbait.

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The only reason I can figure it's not legal and taxed is because of one simple thing - well, maybe two; depending on how you look at it.

1. No one can tell you how much THC is enough to get you impaired. Alcohol - known, and done. THC - I've never seen anything like that sort of research.

2. No good, reliable road side test to see if you've smoked too much to be able to drive. Alcohol - done that 20 ways from Sunday.

Solve these two issues and it will be legal in 35 states tomorrow and 48 before Christmas.

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Yep. I think it should be flat out legalized across the board. Treat it just like alcohol. If enough states follow Californias lead with the medical use and dispenseries the feds will be severly outnumbered. The commercial textile value is as vast as well. There are 9 mabey 15 states that have already de-criminilized posession.

If everyone has not read Jack Herer "The Emperor Wears No Clothes" it is a MUST READ. Nuggets of truth just beneath the surface, or forbidden knowledge that could lead you to the dark side............ beware.

Jack Herer - Chapters

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The only reason I can figure it's not legal and taxed is because of one simple thing - well, maybe two; depending on how you look at it.

1. No one can tell you how much THC is enough to get you impaired. Alcohol - known, and done. THC - I've never seen anything like that sort of research.

2. No good, reliable road side test to see if you've smoked too much to be able to drive. Alcohol - done that 20 ways from Sunday.

Solve these two issues and it will be legal in 35 states tomorrow and 48 before Christmas.

Well I am sure some one could come up with a road side test to determine if you are to impaired to be on the road due to Pot.

It might even start with if every other word is dude. Or it could be a If you use Pot in any form, smoke, ingest, you are not legal to drive or operate machinery for 24 hours or something like that.

Correct me where I am about to be wrong, but a drug test can detect if a person has used a pot in one form or another for something like 28 days give or take. However it is detecting trace amounts which is well below the amount to impair a person.

I am sure with some research they could determine the impair area to test for the amount of THC. I bet with some effort they could even get it in the form a breath test, much in the same way they test for alcohol.

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One hang up on the taxing issue they probably have is how do you tax something that everybody can grow in their backyard. If you had a small patch on your property, are you going to the "revenuer" to self report?

Beer and wine are taxed and people can legally make this on their own. Yet most people just go to the store and buy what they want. I doubt that pot would be any different.

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what is really sad is that not too long ago people were sent to prison with very long sentences for simple possession. Heck there are probably still some locked away.

Legalize it and tax it.

+1,000,000,000 to infinity! I think one of the worst things to happen to this country is the war on drugs. It's a war that can never be won. It's cost us a lot of our rights. And look at the toll it's taken in Mexico. All because we made them illegal and created a source of chaos. Horrible, horrible decision on our part.

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