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Schwarzenegger

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director October 1, 2010

    Yesterday, outgoing California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Senate Bill 1449which reduces adult marijuana possession charges from a criminal misdemeanor to a civil infraction. NORML would like to thank the 2,500+ of you who took the time to write the Governor over the past week via NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’, and the many more who called the Governor’s office directly in support of this historic measure.

    Senate Bill 1449 amends the California Health and Safety Code so that the adult possession of up to 28.5 grams of marijuana is classified as an infraction, punishable by no more than a $100 fine — no court appearance, no court costs, and no criminal record.

    Passage of this bill will save the state millions of dollars in court costs by keeping minor marijuana offenders out of court. The number of misdemeanor pot arrests has surged in recent years, reaching 61,388 in 2008.

    The new law, which takes effect on Jan 1, 2011, will have an effect even if Californians vote to legalize marijuana by passing Prop 19. Proposition 19 leaves misdemeanor possession penalties in place for public use and smoking in the presence of children; under SB 1449, these offenses would be simple infractions.

    “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.”

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director September 23, 2010

    Outgoing California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has until Thursday, September 30, to decide the fate of Senate Bill 1449which would reduce adult marijuana possession charges from a criminal misdemeanor to a civil infraction. That gives reformers one final week to lobby for this sensible reform. If you have not yet contacted the Governor in support of this historic legislation, please do so today.

    Senate Bill 1449 amends the California Health and Safety Code so that the adult possession of up to 28.5 grams of marijuana is classified as an infraction, punishable by no more than a $100 fine — no court appearance, no court costs, and no criminal record.

    Passage of bill would save the state millions of dollars in court costs by keeping minor marijuana offenders out of court. The number of misdemeanor pot prosecutions has surged in recent years, reaching 61,388 in 2008. Adults who consume marijuana responsibly are not part of the crime problem, and the state should stop treating them like criminals.

    Governor Schwarzenegger, a Republican, has vetoed several different marijuana law reform bills in the past. Therefore, if you live in California, it is vital that you please e-mail or call Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s office and urge him to sign SB 1449 into law. For your convenience, a pre-written letter will be e-mailed to the Governor when you visit NORML’s ‘Take Action’ Center here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director May 27, 2009

    Nearly eight months ago I posted the following essay to NORML’s blog, entitled: “Want To Know Why Pot Is Still Illegal? Ask Your Governor.”

    Marijuana law reformers, myself included, have spilled volumes of ink commenting on the numerous reasons and vested interests responsible for the continued prohibition of cannabis. But while these lengthy writings may be worthwhile intellectual exercises, I fear that they overlook the obvious.

    That’s why, right now, I’d like to give you seven specific reasons why the use of cannabis by adults — including seriously ill patients — remains a crime in America. Ready? Here they are:

    Governor Donald Carcieri (R-Rhode Island)
    Governor James Douglas (R-Vermont)
    Governor Linda Lingle (R-Hawaii)
    Governor John Lynch (D-New Hampshire)
    Governor Tim Pawlenty (R-Minnesota)
    Governor Jodi Rell (R-Connecticut)
    Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-California)

    Each of these Governors have single-handedly opted to kill marijuana law reform legislation in their states — either by the stroke of a pen (Carcieri, Lingle, Rell, Schwarzenegger) or by applying enough legislative pressure to abruptly halt ‘pro-pot’ proposals from ever reaching their desk.

    Why am I reposting this now? Simple, because the more things change the more they stay the same.

    On Friday, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty vetoed legislation that would have allowed terminally ill patients the legal right to possess and use (but not grow) medicinal cannabis. That’s right, I said ‘terminal.’ Apparently Gov. Pawlenty — who cynically remarked “While I am sympathetic to those dealing with end-of-life illnesses and accompanying pain, I stand with law enforcement in opposition to this legislation” — would prefer to have patients at death’s door rely on the medical judgment of a prison warden rather than that of their physician.

    But Gov. Pawlenty is hardly the only state governor up to the same old tricks.

    In New Hampshire, lawmakers are trying to work out a last-minute compromise with Gov. John Lynch, who has threatened to veto any measure that allows for seriously ill patients to grow or use medical cannabis in their homes. And in Connecticut, Gov. Jodi Rell’s veto threat of legislation that sought to prevent minor marijuana offenders from being saddled with lifetime criminal records certainly did proponents no favors.

    In Hawaii and Rhode Island, legislation pertaining to the medical use of cannabis is now on both state’s governors’ desks. If past is precedent, can vetoes be far behind?

    And what about Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who earlier this month announced, “[I]t’s time for a debate” regarding taxing and regulating the sale of cannabis for adults. We expect to learn more about the Governor’s position in mere minutes, as he will be elaborating on his stance in today’s Digg.com chat — which you can access here.

    Want to know why pot remains illegal in America? You can start by asking your governor — again.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director May 7, 2009

    Update: Today’s blog post is also featured on Huffington Post. Please feel free to post your feedback there as well.

    In a revelation that I’m sure will come as a surprise to absolutely no one, it turns out that ex-Drug Czar John Walters is still full of s—-t.

    Responding on CNN last night to California Gov. Schwarzenegger’s call to debate the merits of taxing and regulating the adult use of marijuana (E-mail the Governor here), Walters demonstrated that he remains an unrepentant liar — even though he’s no longer paid by the federal government to be one.

    To summarize: in under five minutes Walters manages to falsely claim that:

    Today’s marijuana is far stronger — and thus more dangerous — than ever before. Actually, the Feds’ own data indicates that the average strength of domestic cannabis hasn’t changed in over ten years; that marijuana — regardless of THC content — is relatively non-toxic and incapable of causing a fatal overdose; and that most folks — when given the choice — prefer to consume milder marijuana over highly potent pot.

    More people seek drug treatment for pot than all other drugs combined. Technically true, but only because between 60 percent and 70 percent of individuals enrolled in substance abuse ‘treatment’ for cannabis are small-time pot offenders who were referred there by the criminal justice system. In fact, according to the latest federal data, nearly four in ten people admitted to substance abuse treatment programs for cannabis did not even use it in the month prior to their admission.

    Nobody is actually in jail for marijuana-related offenses. Ah yes, the “unicorn” theory. Never mind those 50,000 or state and federal inmates serving time for pot offenses the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics talks about. In John Walters fantasy world, they simply don’t exist.

    Consuming cannabis leads to violent behavior and other criminal acts. Apparently, when pot doesn’t make you “docile and unresponsive, to the point of helplessness,” it makes you unpredictably violent. Or not. Look, I asked this question on Monday and I’ll ask it again: Read about any gang-related violence surrounding the sale of alcohol lately? How about vicodin or paxil? Didn’t think so. Consuming marijuana doesn’t cause violent or criminal behavior, but criminals and violent people do engage in the black market trafficking of illicit drugs. The irony, of course, is that the very ‘violence’ that Walters claims to lament — that is, when he and his colleagues over at the DEA aren’t hailing the increase in drug-related violence as a good thing — is a direct consequences of the public policy (prohibition) he reflexively endorses.

    **Side note: Maine Gov. John Baldacci just signed legislation into law on Friday making the possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana a civil violation, punishable by a fine and no jail time. (Read more about this law in this week’s NORML News stories.) Expect to hear Walters ranting and raving about marijuana cartels setting up shop in the Pine Tree state any day now.

    Finally, for good measure, Walters even resurrects the claim that there are now more medical marijuana dispensaries in the city of San Fransisco than there are Starbucks — an allegation so absurd that the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper laughed it out of the room some six months ago.

    So here’s my question: Gov. Schwarzenegger — as well as U.S. Senator Jim Webb — have called for a “debate” on whether or not to legalize the use and distribution of cannabis for adults. Webster’s dictionary defines “debate” as “to argue opposing views.” But as Walters’ comments so adeptly illustrate, the opposing side has no actual “views,” it only has lies and seven decades of bulls—-t.

    Therefore, I say we skip the public debate and go straight to the public ‘debunk’ (verb: to expose the fallacy or fraudulence of). I’m sure we can find Mr. Walters a seat at the head of the table.