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California Governor Signs Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #652)

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.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Smarter than you (not verified)

In reply to by Rocco411 (not verified)

You are stupid. There will be billions of tax dollars generated if Marijuana is legalized and taxed. It will be just as big as the Tobacco and Alcohol industries are. Idiots like you prevent progress in this country so enjoy the bottom of the pit where your right wing neo nazi fanatics have found to be the best place to be.

Fri, 10/01/2010 - 5:48pm Permalink
Lee Mapson (not verified)

In reply to by Weeder (not verified)

 Perhaps because THC is bad for your brain?! Perhaps because smoking in general shortens lives?

Prop 19 is ridiculous, aside from the smoking MJ around minors part. Anyone who wants it in large quantities will grow it themselves if it passes - effectively eliminating all of this "tax money" people keep harping about. 

Right now all you need is a medical card, which is a short "doctor" visit...and entitles the possessor to grow up to 99 plants! 99! Tell me how it isn't already legal with Arnold's little modification today. It effectively was anyway!

CA will now officially become (if it isn't) Mexico's primary gateway state into the US as far as the cartels are concerned...greeeeat. :(

Fri, 10/01/2010 - 6:30pm Permalink
djk1518 (not verified)

In reply to by Lee Mapson (not verified)

Legalizing marijuana would allow stores to distribute their own marijuana, cartels would have no market in california, people would rather buy legal, cheaper weed than sketchy mexican swhag. Legalizing marijuanna would actually bankrupt cartels as far as the weed trade is concerned. Read up about thc and shit, drinkings worse for you. Plus, growings a total bitch, maybe 2-3% of smokers would actually grow.

Fri, 10/01/2010 - 6:51pm Permalink
p-Jimmy (not verified)

In reply to by djk1518 (not verified)

When I was growing up I just through some seeds in a canyon and they took off. I have grown weed almost anywhere. It is a weed. I stopped when i realized that it made me and my friends stupid drones only good for begging and working at fast food. Those who did not quit soon enough are all on antidepressants. Better than alcohol what a lie. THC stays in your system sometimes for months if you are given a blood test for a suspected DUI guess what you are under the influence.  

Fri, 10/01/2010 - 9:21pm Permalink
rpmcmurphy (not verified)

In reply to by p-Jimmy (not verified)

This is such utter nonsense I'm ashamed of myself for taking the time to respond. Here goes: I know very successful doctors, lawyers, university professors, and pharmacists who all regularly smoke pot. It hasn't made them into drones; they use it the same way many responsible people use alcohol to unwind after a long day. Furthermore, a urinalysis is not IN ANY CASE permissible evidence of driving under the influence. There is no way to prove intoxication through a urinalysis... only recent use. While it's true that cannabinoids will stay in the system of a chronic user for weeks or months at a time and a positive test may get you fired from a job, it is not strong enough evidence for a DUI conviction. Please keep your nonsense ideas to yourself rather than spreading misinformation about something you clearly know nothing about.

Fri, 10/01/2010 - 11:21pm Permalink
ÄäniJostainkaukaa (not verified)

In reply to by rpmcmurphy (not verified)

Urinalysis seeks for THC-COOH wich is not not evidence strong enought to prove anything more than a recent use because it is not psychoactive substance like the THC.

Proving DUI by pointing out the non psychoactive THC-COOH metabolite presence in a suspected person is not actually anykind off a proof for DUI.

But, greetings from Scandinavia and keep fighting for a better future.

Everything You do there, will affect also us and believe me, many peoples are waiting for the change.

Sat, 10/02/2010 - 6:26am Permalink
LIttle One (not verified)

In reply to by rpmcmurphy (not verified)

Thanks - for replying, and for replying intelligently, whenever I read these responses, I'm always shocked at the anger people spread, and the misinformation. 

Sat, 10/02/2010 - 9:20am Permalink
dangermouse (not verified)

In reply to by rpmcmurphy (not verified)

i cant be sure what p-jimmys exact point was but i think the issue of THC staying in your system is not that you could be accused of DUI but more that whole its in your system it could be doing damage. I smoke occasionally but rarely, a lot of my old friends have fallen into the drone category because of drug abuse AND while im sure a lot of people do find good careers, whats important is the amount that dont, and no one knows which they'll turn out to be. And dont try to flog the idea that drug is worse for you, thats not the issue, and to be fair people could do with drinking less, there are schizophrenics out there who would prefer if they sauced a bit more than smoked when they were younger and i count  avery close friend of mine as one of these. i am neutral towards this whole issue by the way, i couldnt care less how it goes, its not like they could prevent people getting weed if they wanted too.

Sat, 10/02/2010 - 11:18am Permalink
shane (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous1 (not verified)

Some research suggests a correlation between marijuana use and onset of schizophrenia but just because there is correlation does not mean causation. It can not be said whether marijuana induces schizophrenia or that people with schizophrenia simply have a higher propensity to smoke marijuana. This disease is coupled with many genetic and environmental factors. If you do not have a genetic predisposition it is highly unlikely marijuana will do anything to you psychiatrically. 

Sat, 10/02/2010 - 4:33pm Permalink
Arthur Spezza (not verified)

In reply to by shane (not verified)

The correlation between cannabis and schizophrenia depends entirely on the user, the strain ov marijuana plus the way it has been treated(sometimes where I live, they like to lace it with cocaine, PCP, etc.).

Mon, 10/25/2010 - 12:02am Permalink
Not For This (not verified)

In reply to by rpmcmurphy (not verified)

It is pure nonsense to legalize it in any form. You can lose your job if its found in your system, but you get a bigger break if the law tickets you, with a $100.00 fine. That's not only backwards, but crazy! What have we came to as a society? Now, if someone uses it in the privacy of their own home to unwind, ok, that's their business, at least they'e being discreet, but to do it in the open is blatant disrespectful. Parents are walking, pushing kids in strollers, and to walk into "the smell" is unavoidable until you actually get up "the smell"

Those who choose to take the chance and smoke it openly, don't care about being discreet, so what are they gon care about the smell affecting others, people with children, those with asthma, and people who just don't want to inhale the smell in the air. What about that?, huh? and all this state can think about is how it will save money for itself. We've lost control, to increase violence, cause it will. Like there are people who can't handle alcohol, there are people who are idiots on weed. Respect for our state has not only been sacrificed, but lost.

Sat, 10/02/2010 - 2:54pm Permalink
swampwitch (not verified)

In reply to by Not For This (not verified)

You are very ignorant to the facts I'm afraid. The first thing I want to do is advise that, in the future, you decline from making remarks about things you know NOTHING about. Your comment was so riddled with garbage and out-right lies I felt embarrassed just reading it. I want to clear up the thing about people smoking in public. The majority of people arrested for marijuana were found to be carrying it on their person or property, NOT FROM PUBLIC USE. Since it is still not legal Federally people will not feel free to simply light up anytime or anywhere! Some people, just as with all things, do not behave as the average do, so you have your rare cases of public use. You act as if everytime you leave the house there's a stampede of parents strolling their babies while puffing away on joints. Your ridiculous....REALLY! Your statement that MARIJUANA USERS WILL LOSE CONTROL AND BECOME VIOLENT is the most idiotic and STUPID thing I've heard yet on this post. I do not smoke myself, but I do know that marijuana calms people down and possibly makes them sleepy, hungry and un-motivated. Your biggest worry is that a pothead might fall asleep while pigging out.....oooh big threat to you, you ignoramous! People like yourself are what is wrong with this country. You go around making decisions based on crackpot half-baked imaginings you dreamed up while picking your ass!
Sat, 10/02/2010 - 4:21pm Permalink
mlang52 (not verified)

In reply to by swampwitch (not verified)

I wouldn't want you to hold back anything!!  Great response to idiocy!  I loved the last line!  Sooooo true!

Sun, 10/03/2010 - 1:48pm Permalink
Kenneth Matteson (not verified)

In reply to by swampwitch (not verified)

We will see legal marijuana. Simply because whenever the truth comes out it is that marijuana really is good for you.  It does not kill brain cells but rather stimulates the growth of new cells.  It does not cause cancer but kills cancerous cells and tumors.  It does not cause depression or anxiety but treats such emotional ailments.  As a gateway, it is only a gateway away from alcohol, cocaine, heroine, and other "harmful" drugs.  Anytime a medical study is done on marijuana; even when the intention is to prove its harm,  only benefits come to light.  The amount of a substance needed to kill a human being is known as its LD50.  It seems marijuana has no LD50.  Even when laboratory animals were given huge amounts of the drug in attempts to kill them.............THEY DID NOT DIE.  Nor, was there any signs of cellular damage from the drug.  Even if you never uses cannabis for its drug properties Its use in agriculture as food, ethanol fuel, and textiles are astounding.  Canada is currently building the first electric cars made from hemp fiber, and the first hemp home in the United States was just recently completed.  This simple WEED can cure all of our social ill's, if only we grow the balls to tell the truth and stop perpetuating nearly 100 years of lies and propaganda.

Tue, 10/05/2010 - 4:25pm Permalink
ace15176 (not verified)

In reply to by swampwitch (not verified)

i agree with this except the un-motivated part because i know after i smoke a bowl i like to go do something productive cause it's fun and i get to show up all the people who are like "weed causes you to become a burden on society"

Mon, 10/11/2010 - 5:22pm Permalink
hahahaha (not verified)

In reply to by Not For This (not verified)

oh yes, because the smell of weed is hurting people? lol and the way something smells can trigger asthma attacks. lol are you for real? yea lets not legalize it because it has a smell. lol it kind of smells like a skunk, maybe we should kill all the skunks in the world because they're the leading cause of asthma. lol i bet you hate baggy pants because seeing some ones boxer strap can cause seizures and blindness. If you don't like my fire then don't come around, cause im gunna burn one down! if your so worried about the kids then why wouldn't you legalize it? im not sure if you've noticed but our public school system is failing because theres no money. but your right who cares if your kids are intelligent, as long as they don't smell dank. I mean after all its working for you! 

Sat, 10/02/2010 - 5:33pm Permalink
jamest (not verified)

In reply to by Not For This (not verified)

So you must be for the prohibition of alcohol and cigarettes as well correct.  I would sooo much rather smell the sweet sensimilla burning then have to worry about breathing in the deadly 2nd hand smoke of a cigarette....or the piss  on a sidewalk outside a bar.  please please please realize what is already legal and why it is legal.  you are a perfect example of an american who drinks the corporate koolaide.  the only reason it is illegal is so that corporate america can profit from its horribly unhealthy competitors....again, Alcohol, Cigarettes, and Pharmaceuticals.

Mon, 10/04/2010 - 2:08am Permalink
kevinm (not verified)

In reply to by jamest (not verified)

the huge puke  pile  outside a  northern Mi bar /restaurant from some drunk that thought he better eat a big breakfast at 2AM to settle his tummy - it didnt work - last  i knew pot  doesnt unsettle the tummy  and cause people to be belligerent -even when the person could use a blunt, hes not belligerent in a bad way --my dads wife says ""oooo pot is sooo addictive "(while shes munching on her prescription morphine pills)

Mon, 10/04/2010 - 11:58am Permalink
NekroG (not verified)

In reply to by Not For This (not verified)

 Not For This said: :"It is pure nonsense to legalize it in any form." " "you get a bigger break if the law tickets you, with a $100.00 fine. "







Tue, 10/05/2010 - 9:59pm Permalink
tiny j (not verified)

In reply to by Not For This (not verified)

So you're worried about the smell in the air, what about every time i walk down the street and pass 20 people smoking cigarettes, what about that stench...that doesn't offend you, or are you a smoker? I would much rather smell pot smoke than cigarettes any day. And the lame argument that people are going to be violent, I work at a bar as a bouncer and I have to say, I would much rather deal with stoners than a bunch of drunk assholes by far. Think before you type...because you sound like an idiot. Stop watching and believing in the horror of REEFER MADNESS, its far from true.

Thu, 10/07/2010 - 3:46pm Permalink
Anonymous111 (not verified)

In reply to by Not For This (not verified)

What have we come to as a society? Well, that in itself is a topic FAR too massive for any of us to tackle in one forum...

Here's what I posit, that legalizing MJ will basically do nothing except generate revenue. People all over the world already SMOKE pot, and many in California are already using, whether it be medicinal under 215 or illegally. Still,  the fact remains that they ALREADY are smoking pot.  I also am going to suggest that the majority of the population are idiots, so legalizing won't do anything to change that. I know that there will be folks that will have no regard for others. But, from my experience, they already do smoke in public and don't care at all about others around them.

I believe that it's a logical step. We can't pay our bills in good ole Cali, we're bankrupted. The verbage of the bill clearly states that the revenue generated could be in the "hundreds of millions." Not to mention the money we'll be saving by not prosecuting every little MJ offense....

I believe this will free up the law enforcement [those we have LEFT] to fight the true problem, which is the saturation of drug cartels with large grow operations. I don't know where you live in CA, but I live up here in FarNorCal [ 4 hoursz N of SF]  and we are being overrun with foreign growers with automatic weapons. I think that if 19 passes, then we have a shot at getting these violent criminals out of our community.  Maybe, JUST maybe we'll also be able to hire our Peace Officers back and keep our streets safer.

I think that MJ has a bad rep with people who are uneducated about it. Not everyone who smokes MJ is a drone or a potential drone, I'm a college educated, highly decorated professional in my field. So are almost ALL the people I know who smoke. I work closely with many of our law enforcement officers daily, charity groups raising funds for them, and working on making MY community safe for our kids and our future generations.  AND I smoke pot daily. That doesn't make me a criminal or a bad person.

I hope to the Goddess this passes, so maybe we can have a shot at fixing our California economy, running the REAL criminals out of our towns and back to whichever country they came from, and letting people just live in peace!


PS- My family has been in California since 1884. I have not lost any respect for the great state I live, work and love in. If anything, my respect has increased a thousandfold.

Tue, 10/12/2010 - 12:31pm Permalink
Responsible (not verified)

In reply to by Not For This (not verified)

You have the audacity to complain that those innocent parents walking their kids in strollers might be affected?  You have some nerve.  Those are the most annoying disrespectful people on the planet.  They bring their kids into movie theatres, restaurants, grocery stores, etc full well knowing they these kids are going to act up and annoy others.  People in glass houses should not throw stones.  Parents with kids constantly annoy me while I try to mind my owns business and now I'm supposed to bend over backward for them.  I blow my smoke in their face.

Tue, 10/12/2010 - 3:39pm Permalink
Anonymous2231231 (not verified)

In reply to by Not For This (not verified)

OMG he is so right, the idiots who abuse pot they go on a rampage... in their dreams cause they pass out from smoking to much pot, unlike booze where if you drink to much you throw up, go to hospital have your stomach pumped, get liver disease oh yea and if none of that you wake up with one fucked up hangover which you regret every time someone says hi to you

Sat, 10/23/2010 - 7:08am Permalink
Gary from Rive… (not verified)

In reply to by rpmcmurphy (not verified)

Well said my friend, as a Matter of fact I enjoy a relaxing toke once in a while. But also my mother was one of the top people in the Riverside County DPSS and came home everynight and smoked a few bowls to unwind for as long as I can remember and is now 67 retired and continues to enjoy her MJ to this day, and is still one of the most intelligent women that I know. No worse for smoking everyday. Come on people forget the propaganda and B.S. I know more people that have been harmed or are in jail or prison for what alcohol has done to them their families and lives!!! Give me a break all you nay sayers.

Tue, 10/05/2010 - 6:32am Permalink
silly-goose (not verified)

In reply to by Gary from Rive… (not verified)

what most people fail to realize is that the anti drug commercials and that whole above the influence movement are sponsored and payed for by the alcohol and tobacco companies, and they will say anything to scare people off of mary-j, because once marijuana is legal alcohol and tobacco consumption will go down considerably. 

Tue, 10/12/2010 - 11:24am Permalink
harry canyon (not verified)

In reply to by rpmcmurphy (not verified)

tell the judge that convicted me when i was sober.    just woke up on my way to work next thing i know on my way to jail and a dui program .  i also tried to fight it  and learned in california any thing over 50 mamo grams of thc in your system you are considered under the influence 

Tue, 10/05/2010 - 9:55am Permalink
dameferb (not verified)

In reply to by rpmcmurphy (not verified)

People are always going to do what ever it is that they want to do.  Legal or illegal.  Drinking alchol does far more damage than weed.   One of the problems is that people in our country has been lied to about weed and the effects that it has. They make up things that they have no idea about.  We know with the sale of weed WILL help the economy.  Weed is already the #1 crop in the country and its illegal...  The people that smoke weed now illegally will be the same people that smoke it legal.  Really some people need to smoke a joint like me =)

Tue, 10/05/2010 - 4:12pm Permalink
Sandy (not verified)

In reply to by p-Jimmy (not verified)

Well p-jimmy, you are right on 1 fact only, it is a weed, and that's where your facts end. Do you really believe that people can't do better than working at some fast food restaurants and beg for food? Go chase down your proof to back up your claims and quit showing your low mentality. I have held down my job for the last 15 years, make decent money and don't work at some min. wage job nor do I have to beg for food to keep myself and spouse, kids and animals, going. You jimmy, are an idiot.

Sat, 10/02/2010 - 11:53am Permalink
matt444 (not verified)

In reply to by p-Jimmy (not verified)

there are so many things worse than pot


cigarettes cause about 400,000 deaths a year


alcohol consumption causes about 85,000 deaths a year


caffeine causes from 1,000-10,000 deaths a year


pain relievers 7,500 deaths a year


smoking weed has caused 0 deaths in history

Mon, 10/11/2010 - 9:49pm Permalink
no one in particular (not verified)

In reply to by djk1518 (not verified)

If we legalize in Cali it will create a black market.think about it if the price of pot goes down in cali all the growers will export to non legal states to make any real money .

Sat, 10/02/2010 - 6:22am Permalink

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