California: Marijuana Possession No Longer A Criminal Offense Under State Law

Sacramento, CA: Outgoing California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on Friday signed Senate Bill 1449 into law – reducing adult, non-medical marijuana possession charges from a criminal misdemeanor to a civil infraction.

The measure 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 a $100 fine — no court appearance, no court costs, and no criminal record.

“In this time of drastic budget cuts, prosecutors, defense attorneys, law enforcement, and the courts cannot afford to expend limited resources prosecuting (marijuana misdemeanor offenses,” Gov. Schwarzenegger stated.

California NORML director Dale Gieringer praised the governor’s decision. “Governor Schwarzenegger deserves credit for sparing the state’s taxpayers the cost of prosecuting minor pot offenders,” he said. “Californians increasingly recognize that the war on marijuana is a waste of law enforcement resources.”

In 2009, there were over 61,000 misdemeanor marijuana prosecutions in California, the second-highest annual total ever reported.

The new law goes into effect on January 1, 2011.

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