Yesterday, outgoing California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Senate Bill 1449 — which reduces adult marijuana possession charges from a criminal misdemeanor to a civil infraction. NORML would like to thank the 2,500+ of you who took the time to write the Governor over the past week via NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’, and the many more who called the Governor’s office directly in support of this historic measure.
Senate Bill 1449 amends the California Health and Safety Code so that the adult possession of up to 28.5 grams of marijuana is classified as an infraction, punishable by no more than a $100 fine — no court appearance, no court costs, and no criminal record.
Passage of this bill will save the state millions of dollars in court costs by keeping minor marijuana offenders out of court. The number of misdemeanor pot arrests has surged in recent years, reaching 61,388 in 2008.
The new law, which takes effect on Jan 1, 2011, will have an effect even if Californians vote to legalize marijuana by passing Prop 19. Proposition 19 leaves misdemeanor possession penalties in place for public use and smoking in the presence of children; under SB 1449, these offenses would be simple infractions.
“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.”