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Facing Legalization Measure Gov Decriminalizes Pot
Posted by CN Staff on October 01, 2010 at 18:29:23 PT
By Josh Richman, Oakland Tribune
Source: Oakland Tribune 
California -- Possession of less than an ounce of marijuana in California has been reduced from a misdemeanor to an infraction, something like a minor traffic offense, under a bill signed into law Thursday by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.The change means those caught sparking up won't have a permanent criminal record, and could weaken a major argument in support of the marijuana legalization measure on next month's ballot that the state spends too much on marijuana enforcement and prosecutions.
The governor issued a signing message reiterating his opposition to outright legalization, particularly via next month s Proposition 19, which he called "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. Still, he wrote, he signed SB 1449 by state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, "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. Those prosecution and court costs were a significant part of the savings Prop. 19 s proponents had touted should the measure -- which would remove all criminal penalties for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana -- be approved by voters. Despite the governor's signing message, Prop. 19 campaign spokesman Dan Newman said the new law "reflects the broad and growing consensus that it's time to control and tax marijuana just like alcohol to generate billions for local communities. Leno, who supports Prop. 19, said he's pleased by the governor's signature."The governor said he would get rid of waste, fraud and abuse and that's exactly what the status quo is," Leno added. "We can't afford the folly of pretending that an infraction is a misdemeanor when that misdemeanor can cost taxpayers $1,000 and only recoup a $100 fine - it makes no sense."Some say Prop. 19 forced the governor's hand."The signing of this bill is certainly made possible and perhaps made necessary by the apparent popularity of Prop. 19 in the way that radical proposals sometimes make more moderate reforms not only possible but necessary, said Stephen Gutwillig, the Drug Policy Alliance's California director. "Obviously Schwarzenegger understood this was more than just an administrative fix. But there's no reason to believe policing practices are going to change simply because the technical nature of the offense has, he said, and African Americans are about three times more likely than white people to be charged with marijuana possession in California, with the ratio much higher than that in certain locales. In fact, he said, some police agencies might issue more citations than ever now that they won't lead to the costs and public scrutiny of a misdemeanor court appearance.Some California locales -- including Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, Santa Monica, West Hollywood and Mendocino County -- have passed ordinances to set marijuana enforcement as their police agencies lowest priority, meaning simple possession cases without any sales or cultivation are often largely ignored.Besides legalizing possession for adults, Prop. 19 also would let them grow their own marijuana in up to 25 square feet of space and would let cities and counties decide whether and how to allow, regulate and tax commercial production and sales.Professor Michael Vitiello, a criminal justice expert at the University of the Pacific's McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, said because Prop. 19 would let people not only have marijuana but grow it too, the measure which he said is lousy because it doesn't specify a statewide regulation and taxation scheme remains relevant to some voters. "This statute doesn't really pre-empt or take all the wind out of the sails of Prop. 19, he said. "Prop. 19 still has all of its warts and blemishes but it does still fill a niche. But Tim Rosales, manager of the campaign against the measure, issued this statement saying the new law "takes away the last reason anyone would have to vote for Prop 19" and all that remains now "is a poorly-written initiative full of drafting errors that will neither regulate, control or tax marijuana in the manner claimed by the proponents."Prop. 19 would conflict with federal law's ban on marijuana possession, cultivation and sales, as does the state's 1996 medical marijuana law; the new state law enacted by Leno's bill still imposes a criminal penalty for possession and so doesn't conflict with the federal ban.The Moscone Act, effective January 1, 1976, provided that someone with less than an ounce of marijuana need not even be formally arrested or booked on the misdemeanor charge; the maximum penalty is a $100 fine, making it the only misdemeanor not punishable by jail time. One study estimated the state saved a billion dollars in arrest, court, prison and parole costs just in the first decade after that law took effect.A Field Poll conducted Sept. 14-21 and released last weekend found 49 percent of California likely voters say they re inclined to vote for Prop. 19, while 42 percent are inclined to oppose it. A Public Policy Institute of California poll conducted Sept. 19-26 and released this week found 52 percent in favor and 41 percent opposed.Source: Oakland Tribune (CA)Author:  Josh Richman, Oakland TribunePublished: October 1, 2010Copyright: 2010 MediaNews Group, Inc. Contact: triblet angnewspapers.com Website: http://www.oaklandtribune.com/URL: http://drugsense.org/url/QDMRsakeCannabisNews -- Cannabis Archiveshttp://cannabisnews.com/news/list/cannabis.shtml
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Comment #19 posted by museman on October 05, 2010 at 09:56:51 PT
OT: slightly
Once upon a time, way back when, I was hitchhiking with a friend up the 99 corridor (before I-5 was finished.) We got 'stuck' at the Lodi exit for about half a day.Finally we got a ride from a (of all things) cop accessorie salesman.He sold them everything they used, except guns.He explained that he had been in the business for a couple of decades, and knew many of his customers personally.Seeing that we were of the young, long-hair types prevalent in California during the immediate post VietNam era, he confided in us that the number one factor that was paying for all of the fancy toys, lights, sirens, etc., was the money got from the ticket 'quotas' the cops racked up for minor traffic violations, but Prohibition was beginning to look quite lucrative (before Reagan 'declared the war). He explained that the cops had several 'funds' that they dipped into from time to time -not just for toys, but for some rip-roaring alcohol fests, employing prostitutes, and other 
'human services'. He said that if he didn't make such good money, he would do something else, because the cops were to him 'disgusting displays of humanity.'To put some proof into his statements, before we left him, he opened his trunk and showed us his samples. There was an entire light rack in there!Now, I jump ahead a few years to a day when I was hanging with the Rainbow, camping on the beach. We went into town in my 69 van and parked to try and score some of the free food that was available in Santa Cruz.My van; 1969 Dodge longbed, rust, a big rainbow on the front, and a mural of the sun over water on one side. 2 different license plates; Ohio 'house vehicle' 2 years expired on the front, and another regular Ohio 'auto' plate on the rear..3 years expired.(Some might wonder how I managed that, but if you were around before Nixon Reagan and Bush, you might remember when America actually resembled a 'free country' and cops actually went after robbers and violent people. There was a lot more liberty in those days)However, it was only a slight surprise to come back from the foray to find a Santa Cruz cop standing there by my van waiting. He was smiling!Upon ascertaining that it was my van, he whipped out his ticket book and deliberated outloud what he was going to charge me with.I posted in an earlier post about how I went without a Drivers License for 23 years - this was one of the first tickets I got for not having one.But while he was writing me up, he said to me;"You know, I used to hate you guys (hippies), and I couldn't wait to get in there and wail on your butts with my night stick. But one day I saw the light."And I'm thinking, "Wow! An enlightened cop!"But then he continued; "That's right! I suddenly realized, that without you f--kers, I wouldn't have a job! So as far as I am concerned, you can keep doing what you are doing." Whereupon he handed me a ticket with a smile, tipped his hat, said "Have a nice day!" and left me standing there in a strange kind of wonder.Well, if you haven't put two and two together, these two stories are about 'the taxpayers money.'Those 'funds' mentioned earlier have come from many sources besides the standard salaries and expense coming from having a small standing army (unconstitutional) in every town, county, forest, and city. Those funds have locally closed our library for the past 20 years several times -because the cops have always (since NixonReaganBush) had first priority access to all public moneys.The saying that any of this is going to 'save taxpayer money' is a smokescreen. The only way taxpayer money is going to be saved is to put many cops, lawyers and judges in the unemployment line - and DO NOT REHIRE THEM!To think that any measure of 'legalization' is going to 'save money' on law enforcement, better read the fine print.Having said that. Pass 19, then we will discuss extricating ourselves from this fascist police state we find ourselves PAYING FOR with our 'tax dollars.'LEGALIZE FREEDOM
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Comment #18 posted by museman on October 04, 2010 at 08:58:20 PT
I do so agree..
"Please Californians. Get out there and vote Yes on 19... for the sake of California, for the sake of the whole country, and the people of the entire world."And while you are at it, try and vote for people instead of politicians,.....if at all possible.LEGALIZE FREEDOM
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Comment #17 posted by Hope on October 03, 2010 at 17:55:18 PT
"medieval BS"
It is medieval BS. You're so right, Museman.And I very much admire your principles, as pertaining to that ticket, and to other principles I know you have, too.The governator would never have signed the bill if he hadn't thought he could trim the vote for 19 by doing so, and I am afraid that a few people might stay home and not bother to vote because of the bill being passed into law.But it's not enough. It is still "medieval" and it is still prohibition and prohibition is still very, very dangerous to everyone because everyone is vulnerable to the "unintended consequences" and "collateral damage" of prohibition.... no matter how innocent... how completely innocent and uninvolved they are... they, their lives, their families, their friends, their neighbors, their property and their liberty are still in danger. Real danger. Not imagined danger... but real... very, very real danger.Please Californians. Get out there and vote Yes on 19... for the sake of California, for the sake of the whole country, and the people of the entire world. I think it's important. Very important. You have an amazing opportunity. Please do it good. Do it right, and do it big.
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Comment #16 posted by museman on October 03, 2010 at 11:12:33 PT
infraction vs misdemeanor
Not much change.The biggest change is in the 'criminal record' aspect; an infraction is not as damaging to a persons "record" resulting in job, and social service descrimination, however the penalties for above the acceptable amount still amount to the same medieval BS.In 1976, I was 'honored' to be one of the first California pot smokers to get a 'marijuana ticket' (what we called 'em in those days) I was incarcerated 3 times, once on my 24rth birthday, over that $50 ticket, and lost my drivers license for 23 years. -because I refused to pay.Some might think that a silly thing to do, over just $50. But that assumption doesn't come so easy to those who know what it's like to see the utter lack of opportunity in a land constantly hitting you over the head with the illusion of being the "Land of Opportunity". Those who found themselves on the edge of homelessness -with families to feed, clothe and house, know how far $50 went in 1976 -80.So my 'failure to pay' was not entirely based on principle, but the principle made me feel better about it.But the point is, even an infraction can be turned into a 'criminal offense' for the simple fact of poverty or lack of resource.The problem, besides the simple and obvious fact of prohibition itself, is a shitload of dumb cops consistently interpreting the laws -which then have to be ironed out in court, which 'costs the taxpayers money.' And to whom is this 'taxpayer money' going to? The cops, lawyers, judges, and politicians.The cops judges and politicians all get salaries, whether any one is charged with a crime or not. They don't have to drive their own cars to the courthouse, or pay for the gas, the 'expenses' they rack up in the performance of their 'job description' is the only real 'expense to the taxpayers.'How can they say that all the "criminal" related issues of cannabis are costing the taxpayer money, when that money is already signed off on, every time they sit and decide a budget?To think that all those judges, cops, lawyers, and politicians would have nothing to do if they had to focus their ALREADY PAID FOR SERVICES on real crime instead of the bogus crap they get people for nowadays. If they went after the real criminals,...but that would literally be biting the hand that feeds them! No their milkwagon is fixing to go away if any kind of real legalization happens, so the hyperbole and subterfuge is going to reach some high levels before 2012 hits.This thing that some are thinking progress towards sanity -that Arnie did - is nothing but an attempt to weed out some of the more ignorant supporters of ending prohibition. The line about the 'taxpayer money' really needs some intelligent revelation. It is total BS.The idea that they would spend less on themselves because possession of an ounce or less is reduced to a misdemeanor is just a load of crap.No victory here, just a clever trick that apparently too many are falling for.LEGALIZE FREEDOM
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Comment #15 posted by FoM on October 03, 2010 at 10:12:43 PT
Hope
On NBC right now is the Equestrian World Championships. It is awesome in HD. Yes now we know Neil's secrets! Neil doesn't look well. I hope he is OK.
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Comment #14 posted by Hope on October 03, 2010 at 10:08:34 PT
It was a really good show.
I did like Hitch Hiker."Now you know my secrets.":0)He was totally cool. They were all great... the young ones, the old ones, and all the in betweens. I loved the flutes."Still moving".I wish we could get the farms going again. It's sad... scary even... to see what were once beautiful pastures and meadows being taken over by brush and ugly weeds. Something called wooly croton, or something, is taking over the world around here it looks like. I miss the many little working dairy farms that used to be everywhere here. I even miss the water pressure being low at milking times.And... these people and their kids, that operated these places and the neighbor kids that worked for them for extra cash ... they are the ones some people called rednecks and country hicks and made fun of them and put them down. I hate that.Now they're gone and their farms, their land, and their lifestyles are gone. I miss them.Maybe we can still make something better from here on... again. I think we can. I hope we can.
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Comment #13 posted by FoM on October 02, 2010 at 21:01:10 PT
Hope
The whole concert was excellent. Boy can Willie's 21 year old son sing and play the guitar.
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Comment #12 posted by FoM on October 02, 2010 at 20:58:26 PT
Hope
I was really happy he sang Hitchhiker. That is my favorite song on Le Noise. If you listen to all the drugs he taken he was honest about them. I liked this part of the song.You didn't see me in Toronto When I first tried out some hash Smoked some then and I'll do it again If I only had some cash Only had some cash. andLiving in the country Sounded good to me Smoking grass while the summer lasts In the real organic sea Where everything was green Everything was green. Hitchhiker Lyrics: http://www.metrolyrics.com/hitchhiker-lyrics-neil-young.html
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Comment #11 posted by Hope on October 02, 2010 at 20:33:40 PT
Mr. Young
Wow! 
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Comment #10 posted by Hope on October 02, 2010 at 19:49:35 PT
Farm Aid
Mr. Young is up.:0)
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Comment #9 posted by Hope on October 02, 2010 at 19:46:56 PT
Prop 19 supporters 
did well. Very well, I think.Geraldo thought something was "Whack" about it ... but I missed what.
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Comment #8 posted by Hope on October 02, 2010 at 19:38:49 PT
This is good...
Gray and Salazar up now.Suds vs. Buds
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Comment #7 posted by Hope on October 02, 2010 at 19:24:42 PT
Geraldo at large
Legalization thing up next... I think.
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Comment #6 posted by ekim on October 02, 2010 at 19:00:08 PT
 geraldo at large
Fox at 10 pm 360 dir tv
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Comment #5 posted by Sam Adams on October 02, 2010 at 07:58:53 PT
got them on the run
Wow, Prop. 19 has clearly seized the offensive and prohibs are on the run!!!CA joins Mass. as the only states to completely eliminate the possibility of arrest for an ounce! Congratulations!!!This move should eliminate 60,000-70,000 arrests per year.And many people said Prop 19 was "too early" or had other flaws - it's already saved 60,000 people from arrest and we haven't even voted yet!!!!! bring it on!
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Comment #4 posted by kaptinemo on October 02, 2010 at 07:58:34 PT:
"With friends like these..."
"But Tim Rosales, manager of the campaign against the measure, issued this statement saying the new law "takes away the last reason anyone would have to vote for Prop 19" and all that remains now "is a poorly-written initiative full of drafting errors that will neither regulate, control or tax marijuana in the manner claimed by the proponents."I call BS.Decrim is NOT legalization. Get that straight. Decrim maintains prohibition. Decrim maintains the threat of jackbooted thugs still trampling your rights, if not taking your life. Decrim means you can still be punished for doing something that our ancestors did with impunity.Legalization or nothing. No half- $$ed compromises, not anymore. The wind is at our backs this time, not in our faces. Let's ride that wind and sail this ship into the safe harbor of legalization, and not founder on the false shoals of decrim. FINISH THIS.
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Comment #3 posted by John Tyler on October 01, 2010 at 22:08:41 PT
good, but not good enough
This would have been good, say five or ten years ago. Itís good, but not good enough. Now the voters have the truth and the power to make cannabis legal again. I hope they do so.
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Comment #2 posted by The GCW on October 01, 2010 at 21:43:34 PT
US CA: Column: Big Brother Is Watching
US CA: Column: Big Brother Is Watching"...A drug enforcement agent ( DEA ) just happened to notice Juan Pineda-Moreno purchase a large quantity of fertilizer from a Home Depot. The agent was hanging in the fertilizer aisle? Per the court, it was the type of fertilizer frequently used to grow marijuana. How do they know that? Is the bag labeled "Perfect for Marijuana?" Afterward, the DEA agents installed a GPS device on the underside of Pineda-Moreno's 1997 Jeep Grand Cherokee..."Cont.http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v10/n797/a06.html?397 
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Comment #1 posted by ekim on October 01, 2010 at 20:30:19 PT
no criminal record-- saving state funds strenghens
The change means those caught sparking up won't have a permanent criminal record, and could weaken a major argument in support of the marijuana legalization measure on next month's ballot that the state spends too much on marijuana enforcement and prosecutions. Fox dir tv 360 10pm Giraldo at large story on Ca Prop 19 
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