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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.
Looking for the easiest way to join the anti-drug war movement? You've found it!

Nice extreme opinion you have

Nice extreme opinion you have there, spastic.

"California is now a

"California is now a worthless place with no valid reason to live there. Nothing there but druggies, whores, sodomites, illegal aliens, other assorted criminals and bums."

I think I've heard more insightful remarks from a two year old. Thomas - I don't think you could have said anything more ignorant than that, unless you tossed some racial slurs in there as well. And you might as well at this point. I mean, you have two feet - Why not blow the other one off, now that you've shot one of them?

Hey where are the whores at?

I need to get some of that.  Any streetwalkers in LA are treated as if they are lepers and hunted down mercilessly by the LAPD. 

lol try sticking your head

lol try sticking your head out of your gated community sometime smartass.

Oh - that's right all the whores are in Sacramento!!!

he he he

I agree completely about

I agree completely about deporting and cracking down on illegal aliens, but I also support marijuana legalization completely.  The drug war is a failure, and frankly people should be able to do drugs if they want too.  The government has no place telling us what we can and cannot do with our bodies.

Please, druggies, move to

Please, druggies, move to Kaliforniuh. 

Okay - that's right - all the whores are in Sacramento.

He he he.

The Great Libertarian Disintermediation is upon us!

Slowly but surely we must dismantle any government policy that coerces people in normal polite circumstances.

This means:

-1- no drug laws

-2- no financial laws > that is to say no income tax

-3- no prostitution laws

-4- no gun laws

Legalize Freedom!

Why not go with no Murder

Why not go with no Murder laws

No robbery laws

No drunk driving laws

No need for medical training

Be careful with how much freedom you want individuals to have. Lawlessness is not too far from freedom.

"Why not go with no Murder

"Why not go with no Murder laws"

Murder infringes on the right to life of another individual.  Protecting against this is a legitimate function of the state.

"No robbery laws"

Robbery infringes on the property rights of another individual.  Protecting against this is a legitimate function of the state.

"No drunk driving laws"

This is a better argument for you.  Some libertarians would argue that someone should not be arrested for driving drunk unless they cause some sort of damage.  I would argue that the person should need to be physically impaired, meaning fail a field sobriety test.  I would do away with the arbitrary system of determining alcohol in the blood stream, as people have different tolerances for different substances.

The reason for this being that a person who took prescription pain medication may be more impaired than someone who had 2 beers.  However the person who had the beers may fail a breathalyzer, and the person on the pain meds would be free to go.  Make the test based on their physical functionality, and not an arbitrary number.

"No need for medical training"

I don't understand the argument you are trying to make here.

"Be careful with how much freedom you want individuals to have. Lawlessness is not too far from freedom."

Do not equate libertarianism with anarchy.  Libertarians believe (for the most part) that a persons individual freedoms end when they begin infringing on another persons individual freedoms.  Pretty simple concept.

I love your comment! I

I love your comment! I completely agree!  The people who comment on here havent been able to put it in a better way than you have, thankyou

Wow, it's about time

As a conservative, finally something Arnie has done that I'm proud of.  Conservatives in general should get behind the decriminalization.  It's a freedom of choice issue, there is nothing wrong with smoking a little after you get home from a long day at work, etc..  The "War on Drugs" has been a disaster since the 1980's.  And nobody cares at all about the worst drug problem of all.... perfectly legal prescription drugs, that probably do more to screw up your body and brain than pot ever could.


Not to mention alcohol is a POISON, and that's perfectly fine.  Cigarettes are worse than marijuana with all the ingredients they have in them these days, they are legal.  World would be a better place if everyone enjoyed a good social joint every now and then.  Jefferson smoked in his pipe and just thought all the time, looking out over his property.  And it wasn't tobacco.  It worked out pretty well for him.

Lol at the two comments about

Lol at the two comments about this being "retarded" and hoping that peolle will leave the state. Honestly, if this makes the extreme social conservatives leave the state, that is a good thing. Too bad they didn't leave before they voted for prop 8. This is a step in the right direction.

Wiemar Republic

Things have gotten so bad in california that it is turning into the Wiemar Republic.  Things were so bad in Gernany between WWI and WWII that the leglization of drugs helped the government manipulate the public and disquise the disaster happening around them. So, history repeating itself, so  who will be the Hitler style individual to bring the state out the mess?

Learn !

A: It is Weimar Republic !

B: Check your facts ! You are full of it.

sounds like someone is

sounds like someone is writing his own Rand novel. Good luck with that.

Who will be the Hitler style individual ,,,,,,,

I hear that Sarah Palin is considering the job.

She can see Jamaica from her front yard.

This thread is officially

This thread is officially Godwinned.

Tax and Regulate

Without the tax and regulate proposition the question of where one would get an oz of weed has not been answered. Currently one cannot grow or possess cannabis for distribution unless they are protected by the medical cannabis laws So again now only the dealers go to jail and it's still a catch 22..


It still is a criminal offense for possession of MJ - a misdemeanor!  If it would have been an infraction and not put on your police records it would have been a better step.  YES on PROP 19.  One problem though, once Prop 19 passes, watch for the leg. to enact per se DUI laws so that any level of MJ or metabolics will be a dui - just like ARIZONA......

Okay - I guess I can't read....

So does this mean that the cops will still take your pot away?  Unacceptable.  GO PROP 19.

Wiemar Republic

The state of California is so bad off it is turning to the Wiemar Republic strategy to get out of the mess.  Simply put, the Wiemar Republic legalized drugs to put the public in a fog so they could be manipulated better. So, instead of fixing the problem, legalize the drugs to make things better.

You know what's even worse than being in a little "pot haze"?

Ignorance my friend.

And you seem to have taken a big 'ol puff of it this morning.

Even at the surface you can see this is not about "numbing the public" and more about the waste of money and effort spend on attacking a plant that if used with some personal responsibly, causes harm to no one.  Next step is tax it. 

So,  instead of having less poorly paid police, you have more well paid police and those police are not wasting their time arresting a guy for smoking a joint and going after real violent criminals.  Oh and not to mention the little side effect of removing almost all the criminal element and profit from it.

You never know, you might have to call 911 some day and that might even benefit you.  You're welcome.

There are a lot of reasons to

There are a lot of reasons to dislike California (I'm an ex-pat myself), but this isn't one of them. If our Founding Fathers saw the drug war today, they would be rolling in their graves. Making plants illegal. It doesn't get much more ridiculous than that. If you get intoxicated on anything and cause problems, there are already laws to address that. Anyone who claims government is too big ought to have no problem with the dismantling of this stupid system that is the "War on Drugs". Talk about tax feeders.

Thank God Almighty!

This dumb Govenor is finally doing some ACTUAL work! I am truly amazed!

Makes Good Business Sense

Before the state was collecting $100, but paying for judges, clerks and prosecutors.   Now they still collect the same $100 for doing next to nothing.  60,000 * $100 = $6,000,000 a year.   Not a lot, but it didn't cost anything to get it.    I suspect there will be a lot more of these citations as the cops were probably letting people off more than 1/2 the time because they didn't want to do the paperwork.    Eventually they will wise up, legalize and tax it.    

There are a lot of reasons to

There are a lot of reasons to dislike California (I'm an ex-pat myself), but this isn't one of them. If our Founding Fathers saw the drug war today, they would be rolling in their graves. Making plants illegal. It doesn't get much more ridiculous than that. If you get intoxicated on anything and cause problems, there are already laws to address that. Anyone who claims government is too big ought to have no problem with the dismantling of this stupid system that is the "War on Drugs". Talk about tax feeders.

Line Of Demarcation

Pot delineates the smart from the dumb. If you smoke pot regularly you can identify yourself as a weak person in addition to being stupid. Someone that needs to alter their state of mind by inhaling smoke in any form has issues.

I believe a person should be content with life without having to alter their state of mind with drugs.

Pot heads, please know we can tell you from the general population, even when you are not high.

Low achievement, personal grooming issues, slower speech, we see you.

You are generally not highly employed either. How many nurses or physicians smoke dope?

I am satisfied with Arnold's new law. A person has a right to choke on smoke in their own home, they can also drink themselves to death. Not my business. You have a right to be dumb.

What a stupid comment.

Demetrius . . . What a stupid comment. You apparently are way out of touch with your spiritual soul and may have some personal issues of your own you should address before you rant and rave about others "having to alter their state of mind". To demean others for the way they look or their employment status only makes you sound arrogant and dumb. There are millions of users out there that have meaningful employment that you never see, that clean your teeth, that care for your kids, that sell you a car, and yes that deliver your pizza. Wake up . . . The cannabis plant has been used for thousands of years not only for spiritual purposes but also as a medicine in America before it was made illegal. Half of Americans like yourself seem totally brainwashed by the propaganda you've been fed your whole life. Maybe you should try it once prop 19 passes so you can see past your own ignorance.


YES to prop 19 . . . Peace!

thanks for sharing your opinion

i hope you have never consumed any medicine, or any alcohol, ever. otherwise, great work with the broad stereotypes. i, for one, don't bury my head in a hole, and i do know many professionals who enjoy cannabis recreationally. and it can't harm you *that much* when pro athletes - including gold-medal olympians! - are discovered to enjoy the plant on their own time. on a positive note, i'm glad you respect the fact that we can all have different beliefs and opinions. just remember that your viewpoint is fast becoming the minority viewpoint in this country.


If being sober turns me into a hateful, spiteful ignoramus like yourself.. Then count me out!

I bet you would be surprised who smokes and how you have no idea.   I've passed a joint around with lawyer's, doctor's and master degree holder's(myself being one of them).  They work their butt's off all day, obey the laws and pay their taxes but instead of throwing down a beer or cocktail after work would rather enjoy a few puffs of Marijuana. 

I would take you to task harder, but at least you seem to be reasonable in that you will let others make the decision for themselves.




This is going to come back

This is going to come back and bite Californians in the butt. This is not a good thing. California has just sunk to a new low. Didn't think it was possible. The most drugged State in the Union. It will not solve the money problem. Don't you people see it? The more money you give government the more they spend. Give them a billion and they will spend 5. Any money you think the government will get by this law or by passing prop 19 will be used up by the next State government on some useless project or for welfare or for paying illegal aliens to stay in the State. It's just like Iran getting money for oil but their gas prices are still high. They receive no benefit in their country to having oil. Same in California. Those want this law passed are those who want to smoke pot all day. See how that works out with a whole State full of drug addicts. Nothing good will come from this.

legalizing pot

this is a BIG MISTAKE. and you wonder why the rest of the U.S. wants california to drop off into the sea????


let's continue to clog up our court system, and our law enforcement (who could be, oh, fighting violent crime instead of chasing a plant), and waste billions of dollars trying to control what people do with their own bodies, with a plant that grows naturally on this earth. let's also continue to hound terminally ill patients who find solace in cannabis (*medically proven solace*) to ease their pain. let's also allow the plant's current regulation to maintain a culture of fear, not just in our country for *millions of people* - for possessing much less plant matter than a bowl of salad - but also in central and south america, where cartels gobble up billions in *untaxed* profit while killing anyone in their way. we should also ignore the FACT that this plant is much safer on the human body than other legalized drugs; let's instead continue the daily genocide caused by alcohol and tobacco consumption. that's what you want... right?

sarcasm aside: i don't want california to drop off into the sea. remember: you are in the minority with your thoughts on this plant's legal status. what planet did you come from?


Who wants California to drop off into the sea?  Maybe jealous people. I mean loads of sunshine and warm temps all year.  I live in cold snowy Colorado. In January I start thinking how good the sun feels on your face. And now you people have even more freedom than the rest of us plus gorgeous weather. Yes I'm jealous.

Good News!

Wish other states would follow this example! Good job! The "war on drugs" has been a total waste of taxpayer dollars and a slap in the face for democracy.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is my newest hero

The damage that has been done to families across the nation because of the utterly ridiculous penalties for marijuana is something that can't be undone.  But thank God for Arnold Schwarzenegger who's taking this huge step to stop the future damage.  I love this guy.  I'm moving to California, not just because of this, but I also love what Arnold Schwarzenegger did as far as going to China and the Far East to get help for California.  This guy does not fear the future.  I can hardly believe he's a Republican.  But I love him.


Hi @Thomas-in-Newport,

Let me be the first to say thank you for offering to depart CA and leave this rotting, cess pool of a state to those of us who enjoy our freedoms. Based on your username I'm assuming you're from Newport Beach; if not, you can change 'depart CA' to 'never come to CA'.


Regardless, I'm very grateful to be a native southern Californian. As part of my work life, I've lived in England, Japan, Australia, and most recently China. Although I've done my fair share of traveling within the US, I've been lucky enough to work in an industry that allows me to travel and live throughout the world. I can honestly say that each time after I arrive back home to CA, I am that much more thankful that I live in a State where I can exercise my personal freedoms more than anywhere else in the world.


I'm not going to speculate where you're coming from with your implied 'pot is turning this state into a land of druggies, while other activities such as drinking and gambling are perfectly a-ok' attitude. However, I'd hope you agree that once we start pushing our own moral viewpoints - be it religious/racist/traditional/insane viewpoints or not - we start chipping away at the very core of who we are as Americans.


Lastly, whether you like it or not, California has several things many other states do not: massive innovation (tech), extremely good climate (San Diego, Santa Barbara, Bay Area, etc), and an extremely well regarded education system (UC system, Stanford, etc.) While we do have extremely high tax rates, and a unquestionably amount of illegal immigration, at the end of the day I'm still glad to be from here and able to continue living here. I am one of those 'job creators' talked about in the media, and I can safely say that my job creation abilities will always adapt to what is necessary to keep myself and said jobs here in CA.


If you want to leave CA - or not visit/stay/work here - please, by all means don't. But at the same time, please don't push your beliefs on me and I'll promise to keep mine to myself.

I love California and am not leaving too!

I personally take the good with the bad.  I come from back east and will never go back.  We have gambling run amok in this state but marijuana is illegal?  Alcohol kills hundreds of thousands of people a year and marijuana is illegal?  Prescription drug abuse is on the rise and kills thousand of people?  and marijuana is a problem? 

Only In Kalifornia

Kali once again shows that it is the state of fruits and nuts.  I suppose they also want free health care.  Of course it isn't free, just being paid for by the productive people so the deadbeats can smoke their pot and demand more freebies.

Going to pot.............

What's next?  I'm sure the crack and meth freaks want legalization as well.

comparing a PLANT, with

comparing a PLANT, with proven medical benefits and proven health advantages over alcohol and tobacco (a proven track record of ZERO overdose-deaths), to two processed chemicals that cause instant, brutal, deadly addiction.... how stupid are you?

Oh come on, let's not use that tired of story..

You are a fine example of the propaganda fed to the ignorant masses to misinform them about Marijuana and group it will much more addicting substances that are MANUFACTURED.

To me it sounds like you want to go back to prohibition and think it works.   Just an FYI, it's been proven throughout history it does not work.

The only argument I would award the anti-MJ position is potency.  I can have 1 beer and the effects are slight to not noticeable depending on your metabolism, while with Marijuana I can take just a small toke and feel the effects.

But then I go back to personal responsibility.  If someone wants to get tanked to the point of not remembering, alcohol will accomplish this.  Marijuana you will hit a point where you will just not get any more intoxicated.

There has never been an OD on Marijuana alone.  Yet, every other drug it is classified with has the risk.  Even Caffeine has an over dose level while MJ does not, this is proven scientific fact.








decriminalizes the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana.

Thats so way cool.

I have an idea, why stop at pot? crack, meth,heroin, why clog up the courts? so what if they have to rob you to get the cash to get high, so what that it will be a windfall of cash to the Mexican drug lords. Let the Mexicans die while we are feeding the killers of our southern brothers. When the air heads drive high, caus, hay, its just a ticket and kill hundreds a year because, well, its cool "even the cops don't care anymore, how bad can it be"?

This will all end in tears.

When will we learn from history?

When the state stops giving your money away, or everyone working moves out, it will all collaps and if you thought the Watts riots were bad, guys , you aint seen nothing yet.

Way to go Cali!

A lot of you morons have a huge misconception of the situation. It's marijuana not alcohol. I've never seen marijuana impair someone so much they killed their best friend and not know it. I've never someone so intoxicated on marijuana they beat the life out of the wife or children. It has been PROVEN that people driving under the influence of marijuana are actually more cautious of their surroundings. You who say smoking marijuana makes a person stupid are so misinformed and have no clue what your talking about.

Marijuana doesn't eat up your liver,stomach,kidneys,or even damage brain tissue for that matter. Actually it has been shown to protect your brain from the damage ALCOHOL causes from binge drinking.

You people need to read the facts and quit buying into government lies and propaganda. The time of "reefer madness" is over. Alcohol kills thousands of people every year. In 10,000 years of use not 1 single person has ever died directly from the use of Marijuana and you can take that to the bank...


Once upon a time, two decades ago, when I smoked dope all day long, I dreamed of the day when legalization would become a reality.  Well, I stopped smoking dope all day long and actually made a life for myself.  Fast forward and I have two children - I don't wish them to get caught into a trap of interesting but fleeting ideas with no motivation to pursue.  This decision is going to cause some bad outcomes for some people.  Having said that, I also don't believe in dictating what a free person does with their bodies.  I live on the East coast so I guess several decades will pass before such legislation arrives...

As ye harm none, do as ye will

Prohibition of voluntary behavior that harms no one else is counterproductive.  The violence in Mexico is a direct result of prohibition in the USA.  All the legal costs to individuals and the state are a direct result of prohibition in the USA.

Prop 19 is only beneficial to

Prop 19 is only beneficial to CA if bill number ABX6-9 gets voted in with it. For those who have no idea what ABX6-9 is you can find the bill here. without it there are too many gray areas in prop 19 for it to do any good for anyone. 

Headed off the cliff

....And it's 1, 2, 3 what are we fightin' for,

don't ask me, I don't give a damn, next stop is Pakistan,

....and it's 5, 6, 7 open up the pearly gates,

ain't no time to wonder why, whoopee, we all gonna die.....

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