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

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 thoughts

  1. I suspect the politicians see the writing on the wall, since they have in the past not done a thing about legalization or decriminalization. Now that the little people will choose for them by way of full legalization, they want to go on record as being pro-marijuana.

  2. What bothers me about this is its a clear attempt to under mind the fall vote. We all know that one of our biggest talking points for the 2010 vote is how many people are arrested for small amounts. Now if they pass this they will turn around and say that legalization is not needed because they are no long jailing people. This is how they fight back. Be ready.

  3. OMG just make it legal! These baby steps are torture and even harmful.
    Instead of creating and implementing a well designed regulated system of production and distribution we do these half measures that don’t solve problems and instead create weird distortions. Virtually legal use, but without legal production and distribution is just plain stupid. The fear of politicians is deplorable. Where is leadership? Doing the right thing gets you reelected. Voters will respect principled decisive leadership, especially when they see the world doesn’t end and in fact improves.

  4. @ TrueAmerican

    If you were a true american you wouldn’t have even said half of the things you proposed in your comment. As others have said, age 30? You’ve got to be joking…

  5. TO: Comment #46

    * Your comment is a prime example of why an age limit would need to be established. Whats disturbing is that you do not understand why.

    I would read True American’s closing comment; you seem to fall into that group.

    Accountability = Legalization
    Accountability = Acceptance

    If you feel that the above two statements do not pertain to you then you are truly fooling yourself.

  6. sign ittttt!i dont even live in a state where it might ever be legalized but this is a move in a positive direction!

  7. * To: Comment 54 …… Sigh

    While I fully agree with the legalization of Marijuana; the blind acceptance of usage without adherence to any responsible user guideline only re-affirms the adolescent mindset that tends to dominant those members of the community that are solely interested in “getting high” and hide behind the medical marijuana movement as a vehicle of their desire with great disregard to the true intent and broader scope of upholding all of our constitutional rights as Americans to take part in what we see fit as long as ones actions do not negatively interfere with that of another.

    If this movement is to be sustainable you must understand the full implication of something as simple the ” Legalization ” of Marijuana.

    * Its time for the community to grow up!
    * Its time for the community to show accountability
    * Its time for those that spear head this movement to set a standard (IE: NORML should have demanded / suggested the closure of a good # of those Medical Marijuana Desp.”Pot Dens” in Calf) A missed opportunity that would have clearly showed legitimacy and restraint among the smoking community and its leaders.

    Legalization = Accountability (Very True)


  8. Half measures aren’t going to impress anybody, if that’s what the CA legislature is trying to achieve.

    There’s an old saying from the time of alcohol Prohibition: “Prohibition is better than no alcohol at all.” Substitute “cannabis” for “alcohol”, and you have the gist of the legislature’s argument.

    Legalization is the answer, not civil fines, which waste and therefore lessen the overall effectiveness of law enforcement. The judicial system will just have to extort its money elsewhere.

  9. James Custer McCarthy – I am so sorry that the American Justice system has treated you and so many others so badly! You make some very good points! I have started making my opinions known all over various internet blogs – not just this one. I find that most of the people participating in the blogs seem to favor legalization! As expected, the few who want to continue prohibition do so out of ignorance and fear. It’s truly up to all of us to try to educate people and change their opinions.

    Marijuana needs to be legalized completely in all states. These measure to make it less illegal, allowing for people to continue to get caught and fined, are better than the status quo but still not enough – and still not just!

    I think that eliminating this societal disease known as prohibition is within out grasp! We still have to fight a few more battles bit I believe we are going to win 🙂

  10. Regarding my post #60 – I’m a good speller and fast typist. But I just reread my last post and noticed some spelling errors… Don’t blame the buzz! That happens when I try to go too fast…

    By the way, this has nothing to do with the California legalization but I just wanted to share with whomever reads this that I just got a new book. It’s titled “Dank”. WOW – It has the most beautiful pictures of marijuana that I have ever seen. Gods – please hurry and help us all make it legal so I can actually try some of the beauties pictured instead of just drooling.

  11. Tick Tock, six months, in roughly 180 days, millions of citizens will vote, for Mary Jane in the state of CA.


  12. Ok, after it’s implemented countrywide then we can move off of petroleum for good. Hemp Biodiesel Engines + Hemp Cellulose Ethanol = 100% Renewable, Sustainable, Biodegradable Energy Source Known To Man. Right after that we should press charges against any and all known Prohibitionists/Oil Corporations for crimes against humanity/ Environmental Destruction respectively. Then mandate that all leftover marijuana/hemp fibers be used to cleanup our gulf coast. We need Hemp more now than in any other time in history! Vote RonPaul2012.

  13. Just like a lier, i mean lawyere still trying to corupt the same ol system. “we are afraid, we are afraid, how can we alow the good people of this country to make disions all by them selves? we must keep controle of the masses or they will find out they don’t realy need us as much as we need our jobs. we don’t care how many lives we ruin just don’t take away our money.”

    what it sounds to me like is they are trying to pasify the good people of cali, by hoodwinking them into believing they are trying to do something for you. But in acuality they are still convicting you and giving you a criminal history. CALI VOTE YES, AND SEND THEM THE MESSAGE THAT WE THE PEOPLE MAKE THE RULES! AND YOU BETTER LISTEN UP OR YOU CAN FIND YOURSELVES IN THE UNEMPLOYMENT LINE!!!!!

  14. @64 “Right after that we should press charges against any and all known Prohibitionists/Oil Corporations for crimes against humanity/ Environmental Destruction respectively”

    They will be hunted down like Nazi war criminals and hung.

  15. This November vote will be California’s way of telling our President that all those internet polls that placed Taxing and Regulating Cannabis as number 1 was not a mistake. It’s Our turn to send a message loud and Clear to the Universe, that we want to get high, do it legally, and be a positive influence on Society. We want no more persecution of the People concerning this plant. I will Vote to Legalize Cannabis and Tax and Regulate it. I am a Veteran and I vote. I love my Country, It’s Prohibitionists hate me, but I am not living my life for them, I’m living it for me. I’ve paid my dues in blood, sweat, and tears, persecutions and hardships. Tough times do not last , tough people do. If ever a Country Owed it’s people an apology , Our Country Owes all Peace Loving Stoner’s and Veteran’s an apology for this Prohibition of Cannabis.

  16. If I had 19 dollars to donate to the campaign for prop 19, I would donate. I do not have $19.
    Anyway, I am glad the chickendoo legislature is finally doing something…anything….
    I don’t see the fat moms with the anti drug t-shirts and funny hats screaming their heads off right now. People are surely waking up to the fact:Prohibition is a cure worse than the illness.

  17. I remember paying berkeley 100 bucks in 95~I remember wanting my 100 bucks back in nov of 96 ‘ when the police man said it was fine to plant up in the sandwichshop!~Today , 2010, I am looking forward to a nice garden next year that my nosy neibor won’t be able to cause me a ‘scene’!This year he bitched, that damn skunk smell! SO WHAT! how about horseshit on the farm! GO LEGAL POT!!!

  18. Personally I am absolutely, 100% greatful & amazed at how far we have come. I grew up in Ca. but have lived in Tx. for the past 15 yrs and the laws here are scarey. I attended the Med. Cannabis Cup in San Fran in June and I can honestly say that next to the birth of my children it was the best 2 days of my life! GOD BLESS AMERICA!! Thanks to all you people that work hard in the effort of decrimilization and those of you who vote. I have never been more proud to be american.

  19. It’s amazing how buds are taking off for what they are and can do, but what about those men and women who are in prison and will not get out because of archaic marijuana laws??? Please remember them!

  20. Well its about time and there seems to a an appreciable amount of unrest with the pro mj folks too. Yes its time folks. FREE THE WEED

  21. Viva La Weed
    Can’t wait till the Feds get on board and snuff it off the drug board. Viva la Weed!!!!!

  22. Feds will not get on board unless states and individuals push. People that favor continued prohibition have one thing right. They never say ‘voting won’t change anything’. Since the 1930’s this group of people has been very pleased with what voting and activism can do for them. A majority of Californians favor legalization. But not all of this majority even bothers to vote. Nerdy, cop loving, Evengelicals on the other hand, do not constitute the majority. But they’ve got one thing right. The people in this group, for all their flaws, understand that voting is real easy to do. Simple. They often get their way because of this.

  23. A matter that needs investigated
    On case#VA107160
    People Vs buddy lee George 
    Norwalk superior court norwalk California division S
    Judge the Honorable Roger Ito
    Los Angeles county district attorney Kang. 
    A case that can be proved as unconstitutional due to the following
    1.) I was denied my due process rights. 
    2.) the district attorney had me charged with prison priors and strikes that I did not have and it was not until after the verdict did she admit her mistakes. 
    3.) I was denied to confront witnesses I supoened 5 officers and only one showed up. 
    4.) the only witness that showed up was detective hakala from Whittier police department he was the lead detective and expert witness. 
    5.) the was bias with the processing of evidence he used his own lab. 
    6.) he lied under oath by saying he removed the drugs before the pre search video because he had a dog. 
    7.) the evidence in the case had been destroyed before the trial
    Evidence was destroyed 5-29-09
    The verdict was read on 8-15-09
    8.) the attorney that represented me right before the trial caused a conflict of interest by violating attorney client privilege by having a meeting with the city of la mirada without my permission nor knowledge were he discussed my case were he was convinced by the city saying I should take a deal under the condition I move out of la mirada when I get out of prison. 
    9.) Henry salcido also told me at one point he didn’t care If I was innocent or guilty I should take a deal. 
    10.) he also told me at one point he was best friends with steve Cooley and if I gave him $180.000 and sign over the deed to our home he could make the case disappear. 
    11.) their was two retired district attorneys that were working for Henry salcidos law firm that were also over familiar with sheriffs and narcotics department that were involved in my case. 
    12.) through the whole case the la mirada mayor and council members had law enforcement harassing me their was about 300 or more calls made to law enforcement with the intent to have me harassed 
    13.) I can also prove false imprisonment. 
    14.) I was charged with possession for sales when no drugs were ever found to be in my possessing neither was any money ever recovered and according to the detective he found $13 dollars worth of drugs in our home all together in separate bags and only one had been tested the second one was never tested. 
    15.) it was unconstitutional for detective hakala to target me when their was 5 occupants living in our home at the time. 
    16.) the search warrant he used to get in our home the day he supposedly found the drugs was stamped denied. 
    17.) the second search warrant had a type -o- error and the name on the search warrant was Walter Eugene Farris a guy that I don’t know and neither did any one els that lived in our home and he had never been in our home. 
    18.)The attorney that represented me during the trial had not been given enough to to familiarize her self with my case the judge refused to give her time to overlook the case.
    19.) after we picked the jurors one of the jurors was prejudice he said no matter what he would find me guilty because he hates drug dealers the judge still allowed juror # 19 to hang out with all the other jurors until he was replaced. 
    The following needs to be investigated
    1.) violation of due process rights
    2.) my state and federal rights were violated. 
    3.) false imprisonment
    4.) harassment 
    5.) negligent
    6.) malpractice
    7.) wrongful conviction
    8.) officer misconduct
    9.) judicial misconduct
    10.) cruel and unusual punishment. Email below evidence when the evidence had been destroyed a email from detective hakala to district attorney kang. 
    11.) the city of la mirada offered to buy our home at cost saying under the condition I couldn’t live in la mirada nor Whittier. 
    12.)la mirada law enforcement was raiding our home practically daily. 
    13.) before this case started detective jerry Reyes told me as he handed me his card with his hand writing on it that if I dident help him he would screw me.
    14.) detective hakala and district attorney kang kept inflicting lies on the jury. 
    15.) I was not on probation or parole when this case started. 
    16.) our car had also been impounded 3 to 4 times every time officers said just tell us were the drugs are we won’t impound the vehicle and every time I was honest by saying I don’t have any drugs they impounded it any way. 
    17.) detective hakala went through my confidential legal mail violating my constitutional rights instead of using normal mail he used a 42 u.s.c 1983 to identify me as living here during The trial mentioning a law suite involving Copley
    18.) during the proceedings of the case no one had any idea I studied law I even represented my self in the federal courts I studied criminal and civil for about five years including 42 u.s.c $1983″s torts writs civic codes ethics even the CCR title 15 rules and regulations. 
    19.) I’m hoping to resolve this with out filing in the federal courts I’m exhausting all remedies if the matter is not resolved then I’m given not much choice because I was wronged 
    Sorry but this is frustrating I just want this matter looked into. 
    20.) I can prove the following. 
    1.)deformation of character. 
    2.) false imprisonment. 
    3.) negligence. 
    4.) harassment. 
    5.) malpractice. 
    6.) wrongful conviction. 
    7.) constitutional violations with my civil rights. 
    8.) including $10.000 dollars of damage to our home. 
    9.)reckless disregard.  
    10.) coaxing
    11.) including due process rights involved in a criminal court proceeding involving corruption. 
    12.) the situation that escalated 
    Into this case was a incident involving a parole officer mr verimontes he worked for la mirada public safety and the Santa fe springs parole department in the year 2001
    He was contracted by both at the same time their was a incident involved with are daughters boy friend driving a vehicle in a irate speed going to autozone test driving a 1997 ford explorer some car was parked 3 ft out from the curb 
    And some kids were playing in the middle of the street they moved out of the street as he was driving up hill and swerved to miss the car when we got back a neighbor showed up cussing and yelling in a violent manner as I got out of the passenger side he was trying to provoke me I asked him to calm down he told me fuck you I said I have kids and theirs no need for this he stated bull I ignored him and went next door and eventually went to the store with our cousin next door not knowing while we were gone the neighbor had called the sheriffs by time I got home their was no law enforcement around but when I reported to parole I was giving him the heads up about possible call made to law enforcement with our address he asked did you have any police contact I stated no he said don’t worry about it then that nite shows up with law enforcement to arrest me for driving with out a license I was in jail double the normal time waiting for my bpt hearing mean while I hired a attorney for ADA issues he had no idea that the attorney representing me at board had investigated his wrong doing because he went to every neighbor showing first my whole criminal past then mug shots asking if they seen me driving the attorney caught him lying under oath at least 12 times the commissioner let me go home when I had got out mr verimontes told me pack up your shit your moving back to Sacramento in such a irate manner to were other people eventually had to get him he told me that if I appealed him he would get a petition with our neighbors so I reported to parole in Sacramento and while I was there I filed a 602 inmate appeal demanding It to be exhausted so I could file a 42 u.s.c $1983 I charged him with the following
    1.) racial profiling 
    2.) negligence
    3.) harassment 
    4.) deformation of character 
    5.) false imprisonment 
    6.) I filed to a copy of the bpt hearing tape only to find out it had been damaged 3 days after the hearing when it was not suppose to be damaged for 120 days were I was entitled to a copy of it only to be denied eventually the 602 complaint allowed me to come home after he was involuntarily moved from both jobs. 
    7.) the city mayor and council members had sheriffs going through any lengths to get me for anything just to send me to prison also to force me to move from la mirada. 
    8.) we had a 2002 ford explorer literally torn apart to the point it was not worth having the interior completely destroyed. 
    9.) our home was stalked by sheriffs to the point our kids moved out. 
    10.) their are witnesses to two sheriff deputies named Morris and tousey that work for the city of la mirada telling every drug addict that I am a kingpin and a drug dealer. 
    11.) we even called the sheriffs about some one driving a car into our garage door they showed no interest in the damage done to our home. 
    12.) the sheriffs also known our home had been broken into and vandalized on numerous occasions. 
    13.) Morris and tousey also were telling people say his name you go free Morris and tousey are Los Angeles county sheriffs. 

    Buddy George – VA107160From: joanne alberry
    View Contact To: LAURIE YTARTE —————–
    — Laurie,here is the email from the Detective 
    telling the court that all the property was
    destroyed. Sorry about all of it. Feel free to mail
    me any payments you can at my office address
    4229 Main St Suite 4 Riverside CA 92501 I will
    let you know when I find an attorney who will
    take on a governemtn entity. good luck to you
    and Buddy,Joanne ———- Forwarded message
    ———-From: Date: Fri, Sep 25, 2009 at 7:23
    AMSubject: Fw: Buddy George – VA107160To: Hi Joanne, Per our
    conversation, here is the email from Detective
    Hakala confirming that the evidence was
    destroyed. I will request that our matter be taken
    off calendar today. Thanks. ———————-
    Forwarded by Miriam Kang/DAUsers/NLADA on
    09/25/2009 07:22 AM ————————— To:
    cc: Subject: RE: Buddy George – VA107160 I
    contacted our central property and the items
    seized in the Buddy George case (408-15814-
    0460-184) were dispoed on 05-29-09. Any other
    questions just let me know. Eric ———————
    []Sent: Thu
    9/24/2009 2:49 PMTo: Hakala, Eric J.Subject:
    Buddy George – VA107160 Hi Detective Hakala,
    Just as a reminder, please email me a letter
    confirming that the the property booked into
    evidence for this case has been disposed of and
    the date of disposal. Thanks so much!
    Sincerely,Miriam KangDeputy District
    AttorneyTel: 562-807-7211 

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