Nicholas Pell writes in the Examiner.com
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.”
California director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Dale Gieringer lauded the governor’s decision…
[continues at the Examiner.com]