Toke of the Town is reporting that Gov.Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed SB1449, a bill that reduces Ca. penalties for possession of a oz of Cannabis or less from a misdemeanor to a infraction. No longer will a person with a oz or less have to appear in court or face time in jail.
Decrim In Cali! Schwarzenegger Signs Bill: Pot Now $100 Fine
A bill downgrading the possession of an ounce or less of marijuana from a misdemeanor to an infraction has been signed into law by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The law, SB 1449 by Senator Mark Leno, means small-time pot offenders will no longer have to appear in court, and will no longer have a criminal arrest record. It will also save California millions of dollars in court and prosecution expenses, according to Dale Gieringer, director of California NORML.
No longer will Californians need to worry about a arrest record for Pot as long as they only carry enough pot for a days use, a oz or less. While this is not quite as exciting as passing Prop.19 in Nov., is it another giant step toward the legalization of cannabis. Even if Prop.19 fails we have moved the goalposts this yr. This Bill is short and does not seem to be retroactive, yet. Anyone with a business that makes inexpensive scales might want to start marketing to the local police forces so they will be able to tell what a oz. is.
In 2009 over 61000 people in Ca were arrested for simple possession, imagine the time and money this Bill should save, not to mention the heartache. This is not the time to get lazy. We still need to push Prop.19 thru so don't fall for anyone saying we no longer need to pass Prop19 anymore.
Update: Arnolds statement on signing the Bill as found at Salem-News, Governor Schwarzenegger Signs Bill to Reduce Marijuana Penalties in California
To the Members of the California State Senate:
I am signing Senate Bill 1449.
This bill changes the crime of possession of less than an ounce of marijuana from a misdemeanor punishable only by a $100 fine to an infraction punishable by a $100 fine. Under existing law, jail time cannot be imposed, probation cannot be ordered, nor can the base fine exceed $100 for someone convicted of this crime.
I am opposed to decriminalizing the possession and recreational use of marijuana and oppose Proposition 19, which is on the November ballot.
Unfortunately, Proposition 19 is a deeply flawed measure that, if passed, will adversely impact California’s businesses without bringing in the tax revenues to the state promised by its proponents.
Notwithstanding my opposition to Proposition 19, however, I am signing this measure because possession of less than an ounce of marijuana is an infraction in everything but name. 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.
As noted by the Judicial Council in its support of this measure, the appointment of counsel and the availability of a jury trial should be reserved for defendants who are facing loss of life, liberty, or property greater than $100.
For these reasons, I am signing this bill.
Sincerely, Arnold Schwarzenegger