01 Oct 2010

Ahnold Decriminalizes Marijuana

Drug War, Shameless Self-Promotion 5 Comments

You know, sometimes I freak myself out with my spot-on predictions. Brownie points for anyone who links to the earliest post in which I said that we would move toward drug legalization (which allows the government to tax it) as this depression lingers:

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill Friday morning that decriminalizes possession of marijuana in the state.

Those caught with less than an ounce of marijuana will still receive a maximum penalty of $100. However, Senate Bill 1449 reduces the legal categorization of marijuana possession from a misdemeanor to a civil infraction. This means that those caught will not have to appear in court, pay court fees or receive a criminal record.

Schwarzenegger opposes Proposition 19, a pending referendum that will provide a legal framework for the sale, cultivation and taxation of marijuana. However, despite this opposition, Schwarzenegger signed the bill into law. In a letter to the California Senate, Schwarzenegger stated that “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.” He further stated that “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.”

5 Responses to “Ahnold Decriminalizes Marijuana”

  1. Yancey Ward says:

    Can’t tax what one can grow.

  2. byafi says:

    It’s interesting that this is motivated by financial issues. I guess those of us appalled by the violence and humanitarian issues should have sought a more primitive motivation: money.

  3. Tony Garcia says:

    Here is my problem with this. While it is definitely progress in a more sane direction for the war on drugs, it is nevertheless just as stupid a violation of rights as the previous stance. What Ahnold has essentially said is, ‘the courts can’t afford to prosecute’, but it is still a $100 fine, no court and no jail time, if it is under 1oz. So essentially he says he is ‘decriminalizing’ it on one hand while assessing a fine (assumably for criminal conduct) on the other hand while completely removing due process in order to lessen the burden on the courts. He isn’t decriminalizing it at all, he is simply trying to remove a pot smokers right to due process by trying to streamline the process of finding you guilty and assessing a criminal fine. If you pay the $100 fine without demanding a trial, you are essentially pleading guilty to a crime, with an implied promise that they won’t put you in jail. Is that really a good idea when this behavior is still clearly considered a federal crime? Should potheads be submitting an implied guilty plea and hope the federal govt. doesn’t come after them or that this policy isn’t reversed retroactively at some point in the future?

    I think this is really just a catch and release policy as opposed to the ‘decriminalization’ it is being be praised as. If potheads in Cali were smart, they would all demand their due process, force a trial over the $100 fine, and once the courts have truly had enough they will really get the point and decriminalize it by making it LEGAL, as in NO criminal fine for possession.

    This is like saying speeding has been decriminalized because you don’t have to go to court, you can just write the check. Try not paying them and you’ll find out how quickly they consider it a crime.

    • bobmurphy says:

      The difference between us is that you apparently read the whole article. I just skimmed a few paragraphs and claimed victory.

  4. Jim D says:

    Somewhat OT, but I’m wondering when more states will legalize assisted suicide. Could save them a bundle.