California: In The Shadow Of Legalization, Lawmakers Moving Forward With Decriminalization

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 25, 2010

    While most Californians and the media in recent months have understandably remained focused on The Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010 — which seeks to eliminate criminal penalties for the adult personal possession and cultivation of marijuana — state lawmakers in Sacramento have quietly been moving forward on a cannabis liberalization bill of their own.

    Senate Bill 1449, which seeks to reduce personal, non-medical marijuana possession penalties from a criminal misdemeanor to an infraction, is now only one vote away from heading to Gov. Schwarzenegger’s desk.

    On Wednesday, members of the California Assembly Committee on Public Safety voted 4 to 1 to send the measure to the Assembly floor. (Senate lawmakers had previously voted 21 to 13 in favor of the bill.) Once the full Assembly acts, the measure will go before the Governor for his signature.

    Under current law, marijuana possession has a unique status in California law as the only misdemeanor that is not punishable by arrest or jail time. However, offenders must still appear in court, pay a fine ($100), and pay court costs (approximately $200). In addition, defendants who wish to avoid a criminal record must attend a court-ordered diversion program. Defendants who do not attend such a program are saddled with a criminal record for at least two years following their conviction.

    By making possession an infraction, Senate Bill 1449 would spare possession offenders time in court or the risk of a criminal record. Instead, they would simply pay a fine.

    More information about S.B. 1449 is available from California NORML, and from NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.

    78 responses to “California: In The Shadow Of Legalization, Lawmakers Moving Forward With Decriminalization”

    1. adhd says:

      he better bloody sign it or he aint getting re elected

    2. Are you Kidding Me? says:

      The LEO’s wouldnt have to do anything more than sit around the donut shop writing citations to stoners.

      What a waste of resources. Why aren’t these LEO’s doing something USEFUL for society instead of harassing the folks that pay their wages..??…???

      This is beyond absurd, vote to remove all laws pertaining to the cannabis plant.

    3. DB says:

      Fuck you and your fines!

    4. Don_M says:

      I absolutely don’t believe that marijuana possession should be illegal at at all – not even an infraction! That said I wish to the Gods that Virginia’s leaders would get on board and help stop the insane drug war. Here, the penalties continue to be extremely stiff and with no upcoming bills to vote on. I recently joined VA NORML. Maybe I can help make a difference here. I’m going to try! Part of the problem may be that tobacco is really really big here and they know that marijuana is not addictive. They don’t want the competition. On the other hand, even though it is not addictive, it is still highly desired by a huge number of people. You’d think maybe that would be enough to get that industry on board… One thing that scares me though is that if the tobacco industry starts producing it in mass, they’ll probably add a lot of dangerous extras to it before it makes it’s way to market… It would be really cool if they marketed an ‘au natural’ brand which has no additives of any kind!

    5. J says:

      This needs to happen. I was ticketed for possession in 2006 in CA. I completed the court ordered diversion program, and I still have a criminal record. (I really didnt have a choice about doing the program, the judge threated to take away my license for a year if I did not complete it.) Now I live in Oregon and there is always a small blip on my record (according to my land lords).

      The whole experience caused me to mistrust the government and the police.

      End this nonsense!

    6. […] the full story at NORML.org. var a2a_config = a2a_config || {}; a2a_config.linkname="Senate Bill Lessening Punishment […]

    7. Georgian says:

      They’re only using this to shut people up about Legalization I think. Anyone else think the same?

    8. mtlasagna says:

      the politicos continue to be quite pathetic in their half-arsed measures.

      powerful forces that don’t play by the rules have much to lose.


      we the people sense that legalization is coming sooner rather than later. meanwhile good quality cannabis gets easier to find. yay

      let’s help in whatever way we can.


    9. The Oracle says:

      It’s something, anyway.

      Next step:

      Crunch the numbers comparing how much more could be raked into the public coffers via taxes on cannabis as compared to the amount from people who just happen to get busted and have to pay the infraction fine, and blabbing and blurbs all over the place about it.

      After November, it’s either KaChing from this cash cow or put some more misery on the taxpayers to pay for existing infrastructure and civilization. I sure as hell don’t want my taxes raised when they could be getting revenue from cannabis. In fact, I’d like a tax cut, however meager it may be.

    10. Anonymous says: