California De-Criminalizes Small Amounts of Pot

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thursday to de-criminalize possession of up to one once of marijuana. The new law makes a small possession  of pot as in infraction down from misdemeanor.

The Law (SB1449) by State Senator Mark Leno(D-San Francisco) keeps the fine at $100. From Stop the Drug War:

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.”

Stop the Drug War has more.

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