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California Governor Signs Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) 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), marijuana 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
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Demand Justice not half measures


Decriminalization is NOT a   substitute for complete State/Federal legalization!!!! when I first started smoking pot in 1976 California passed a decrim law exactly like the law Arnold just signed but it had been repealed by right wing politicians in the late 90s. you guys seem to forget this history. not only do you have to legalize, but you have to do it in a way the politicians cannot gut the law like AZ politicians gutted the medi-pot law passed there in 1996. Nevada politicians are chipping away at the medi-pot law passed there as a state constitutional amendment. since they cannot overturn the law they are making it hard on patients by making it harder and more expensive to maintain your "legal" status. you now have to start from scratch every year. paying nearly $500 by the time you are done getting your recommendation AGAIN, reapplying for your card AGAIN just to legally have your medi-pot each year. half measures are crap. we need to demand pot be made a schedule 3 drug at the federal level, and settle for nothing less, because decrim and state by state legalization will be undermined by the forces that profit from the war on pot/hemp

we have to stop settling for little gains just to watch them overturned again and again. there are 50 million of us we need to stop voting for buttheads who want us in jail and DEMAND that we stop being treated like criminals.

EVERY one of you dumb stoners has voted for an anti-pot warrior in past elections. it is your own fault pot is still illegal!!!!!!!!!  stop waiting for justice DEMAND IT!!!!!!!!!!


STOP blaming the GOP.

Democrats were willing accomplices in expanding the War on Drugs. Clinton was the worst hypocrite of the bunch. Blaming it on the GOP is intellectually questionable at best. granted they created the political  fever that made expanding the War on Pot politically necessary to get elected/re-elected. many of you have been responsible too when you voted for these drug warriors, because they paid lip service to issues you were suckered into believing were more important to your right to consume pot without being treated like a criminal.

Look in the mirror before you scapegoat a single group of politicians who were a part of a larger political movement. did you vote for Nixon, Reagan, either Bush, or most Democratic Members of Congress without making your feelings about Marijuana Policy known to them on a regular basis. voting any party line will not advance our agenda. We MUST DEMAND that we stop being treated like criminals for consuming a safe natural product. and stop electing corporate hacks that continue to support the War on Pot no matter which political Party they are a member of. BTW the Libertarians are the ONLY political Party to support Re-Legalization of drugs now illegal for arbitrary reasons, many of them racist.

Blame yourself for being afraid to be a Marijuana law reform activist voting that 1 issue  each and every election and making that known to the politicians who represent you. being afraid to let your status be known and voting for an end to this stupidity is why pot is still illegal.

Token=Weed smoker grows up to become POTUS

Just sayin', it's hard to defend the point that weed smokin' will make you a nuthin' who can only find work at McDonalds when we have elected a self identified pot smoker to the highest office in the land.

Gov Arnold toked bud after he lifted weights

Arnold, smoked pot and didn't end up doing so bad for himself, did he?

why not legalize it

-There is no concrete and factual scientific proof that smoking weed causes health problems, but there is scientific proof from research that marijuana stimulates brain cell regeneration, slows down the reproduction of cancer cells, relieves stress, and causes a good appetite.

-You CAN'T overdose on marijuana, but you can on alcohol, prescription drugs, and even aspirin.  Katt Williams said it well, "Aspirin is perfectly legal, but if you take 13 of them mother f@*!$rs, it will be your last headache."

-The side effects of smoking marijuana is hunger, happiness, sleepiness.  Tell me what normal person doesn't like eating, laughing, and sleeping.  People say that marijuana makes you lazy, and it does make some people lazy WHEN they are high.  However, I know plenty of people who become more productive when they are high(probably because marijuana can make shoveling dog crap fun), and what problem should someone have with another person being lazy when they are high?  It is their choice!

-People say that frequent marijuana use makes people unmotivated.  I know people from high school who smoked everyday and did not go to college and either do not work now or work at low income jobs.  However, all of those people never excelled in academics when we were in middle or elementary schools together, which was way before they ever touched a bowl or a blunt.  I also know many people who are in college now pursuing degrees to become lawyers, doctors, engineers, teachers, physical therapists, business men, etc., and they smoke everyday or occasionally.  The smartest individual I have ever met is currently at the top of his class in medical school and when he came in as a freshman to college he brought in more AP credits than any other student has in the history of the university(he entered college as a first semester junior).  This guy had a suitcase that he took to parties with him in which he kept a few bowls, a small bong, and plenty of weed.  He is a huge pothead and I would trust to perform surgery on me blindfolded.  The truth is that lazy people will be lazy with or without pot because that is their personality, and outgoing people will be outgoing regardless if they smoke or not.  If you disagree then explain to me how America has and had presidents who have admitted to smoking pot in the past(and you will be ignorant to believe that they only did it once or did not inhale).  Not to mention that the governor of California smoked pot when he was the greatest bodybuilder in the world.  If you don't believe me, go on youtube and search for Arnold sitting on a couch smoking a joint at a birthday party for Lou Ferrigno and singing Happy Birthday to the Hulk.  Not to mention that the Terminator has admitted and bragged in an interview about smoking a real joint instead of a fake one in a scene of one of his movies.  I would say that winning Mr. Olympia seven times and becoming a Republican governor of a prominently Democratic state is pretty successful.

-People say that marijuana is a gateway drug.  I do not know about you, but the people that I have seen high become paranoid of taking vitamins, but I have seen drunk people snatch up anything that is given to them with full enthusiasm.  I have seen these same drunk people talk about how they would never do cocaine or acid when they are sober.  Alcohol messes with your judgement way worse than marijuana ever does, just ask the people you went to college with who drunkenly had sex with girls they would never talk to sober, or said screw the condom and gotten girls pregnant, or decided doing a frontflip off of a roof is a smart idea, or peed in their closet, or punched a cop, etc.

-Okay, okay, but marijuana is still a drug and drugs are bad.  Did you know that caffeine has more addictive properties than marijuana.  I bet that won't stop you from drinking that big cup of joe before you go to work. 

-I saw somebody commented that marijuana causes violence.  Please stop and think about how many times you have seen or even heard about an individual become angry because he or she is "high" and try to fight somebody. Then stop and think how many times you have seen or heard about a man beating his wife because he was drunk or two random guys beating the crap of each other because one thought the other looked at him strange.  The only violence that comes from marijuana is the violence caused by drug cartels and drug dealers. 

-Legalizing marijuana will increase drug trafficking and profit the drug cartels and drug dealers.  No, it will tremendously decrease their business, if not put them out of business.  Why would people deal with dangerous drug dealers to buy low quality pot when they can walk into a store down the street and buy much higher grade marijuana without the fear of being robbed or buying something that is laced?  There would be no reason to be a drug dealer because there is no way they could compete with a professional product.  After prohibition people did not continue to buy the cheap and disgusting liquor from the bootleggers they bought from when it was illegal because once alcohol became legal again companies began to develop whose sole goal was to make the best tasting liquor for profit.  So, the bootleggers had to find a new occupation, just like the drug dealers will have to do once their profits drop dramatically.  Imagine that, legalizing marijuana might cause drug dealers to find REAL jobs and be more productive members of society.  If the drug dealers can't sell their product, they will have no need to buy more from the drug cartels.  If the drug cartels do not have enough demand for their product in America, they will stop running drugs across the border and killing American people and try to find another place to export their drugs.

-Alcohol and tobacco take thousands of lives every year, and marijuana has never caused a single death(from a health issue).  If marijuana can't be legal, then why is alcohol and tobacco legal?  Legalizing marijuana will decrease the consumption of alcohol and tobacco, which is obviously a good thing unless you are too ignorant to absorb what I have already said.

-Well, there will be no way to tell if somebody is driving under the influence of marijuana.  Actually, there will be.  When somebody gets pulled over for driving drunk they have probably been speeding, swerving, or driving dangerously.  What do cops do when they think you have been drinking?  They make you do field sobriety tests.  If you fail them you go to jail, but if you pass you get back in the car and drive.  So, if somebody is so high that they are driving recklessly, a cop can pull them over and make them do the same field sobriety test as for a possible drunk driver.  If he fails, take him to jail, but if he passes let him drive.  Oh right, you can't use a breathalyzer or any similar device to instantly tell if the person has been smoking.  Well, a person has the right to refuse a breathalyzer if they want to, so there will not be much harder to control driving under the influence of marijuana.

-In the end, there is not a single reasonable reason of why marijuana should not be legal.  There are so many positives with it being legal without even talking about how much it can help the economy, put money into school systems, and decrease taxes by having way less people in jail for marijuana related charges.

-If you do not wish to smoke marijuana, then don't.  Making it legal does not mean that you have to smoke it if you do not want to.  I don't think less of people because they drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes, it is their choice.  Support something that is clearly a step forward and has nothing but tremendous potential.  People need to stop being narrow minded and ignorant.  Just looks at the comments left by people against legalization, they have no backing or logical reasoning, but are instead ignorant opinions.  Then look at the comments that are for legalization, there is a lot of fact and serious proof in those.

Prop 19

The only thing that worries me about prop 19 is the misdemeanor status of public smoking... i think an infraction is a little more like it.  people light up in public and around families all the time anyway and nothing seems to ever happen.  although, if weed does, in-fact, become legal in cali, then the stipulations of the laws embodied therein can be modified over time.  i think that there should be initiatives beyond prop 19 that modify the surrounding laws.  i have heard from a good friend that he is not happy with the way prop 19 is written, so that makes me wonder... push to pass the prop just to make a statement without scrutinizing the fine print or say no just because it will be an infraction.  i have since watched the canadian documentary about this and the final point about pharmaceutical companies is compelling.  i think i will vote yes, although i am wary.


all the misdemeanor laws seem a little gratuitous for the sake of making the prop appealing to the public at large.  i guess take what we can get?  one thing that i think is a little wierd: in the uk, minors can drink at 18.  the us makes it such a point to make minors wait until 21... i think that idea stunts the maturity of young people.  i was smoking herb at 15 and there are much younger kids doing it than that.  laws or not, it will still happen.

i stop smoking weed for

i stop smoking weed for almost 4 months and i am proud because it was waste of my money and  you guy out there should try to stop smoking it

Bad Idea.

You should think before you all vote yes or no. While it makes marijuana legal, it also makes it insanely expensive. people, un-able to afford marijuana will turn to the few dealers still in business, as well as harder drugs. Is it really that hard to find someone who sells, smoke it in your house, and not get caught?

Wow! - I must say this has

Wow! - I must say this has all been a very entertaining read - :)

The Kids

What about the young kids that no one even tends to think about? Everyone keeps talking about how they feel about it or how it is a good thing or how it is a bad thing. Think about it these parents that smoke weed with their young ones around. How is it right to make children not have a choice in the matter? They get put in situations that they dont need to be in. It is just wrong and bugs me to think about how these little kids are forced to be around it and whats even worse they have second hand high or their relatives or family members think its okay for these kids to get high when they arnt even old enough to make a knowledgeable decision. This is sickening to me. I know this kind of stuff happeneds anyway, but it just irritates the hell out of me

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