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One small step for man, one giant leap for pot smokers
October 1, 2010 10:38 AM   Subscribe

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) Thursday signed into law a bill that decriminalizes the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana. The bill reduces simple possession from a misdemeanor to an infraction. via

To the Members of the California State Senate:

I am signing Senate Bill 1449.

This bill changes the crime of possession of less than an ounce of marijuana from a misdemeanor punishable only by a $100 fine to an infraction punishable by a $100 fine. Under existing law, jail time cannot be imposed, probation cannot be ordered, nor can the base fine exceed $100 for someone convicted of this crime.

I am opposed to decriminalizing the possession and recreational use of marijuana and oppose Proposition 19, which is on the November ballot.

Unfortunately, Proposition 19 is a deeply flawed measure that, if passed, will adversely impact California’s businesses without bringing in the tax revenues to the state promised by its proponents.

Notwithstanding my opposition to Proposition 19, however, I am signing this measure because possession of 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.

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.

As noted by the Judicial Council in its support of this measure, the appointment of counsel and the availability of a jury trial should be reserved for defendants who are facing loss of life, liberty, or property greater than $100.

For these reasons, I am signing this bill.

Sincerely, Arnold Schwarzenegger
posted by AElfwine Evenstar (70 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Thanks Arnie!!!
posted by ReeMonster at 10:40 AM on October 1, 2010


One small step..?
posted by pyrex at 10:44 AM on October 1, 2010


I am opposed to decriminalizing the possession and recreational use of marijuana and oppose Proposition 19, which is on the November ballot. ... Unfortunately, Proposition 19 is a deeply flawed measure that, if passed, will adversely impact California’s businesses without bringing in the tax revenues to the state promised by its proponents.

Which is it, Gov? Are you opposed to the recreational use of marijuana - such as you are shown doing here? Or are you just upset you're not getting more of the profits?
posted by Joe Beese at 10:44 AM on October 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


That's nice and all, but how's about you and the legislature get back to work on getting a budget in place?
posted by elsietheeel at 10:44 AM on October 1, 2010 [5 favorites]


Seems like a solid policy move to save money. Good on you, Mr. S.
posted by josher71 at 10:45 AM on October 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was really hoping if you took the first letter from each line down the left hand side of the bill it would say "I'M SO HIGH RIGHT NOW."
posted by bondcliff at 10:45 AM on October 1, 2010 [49 favorites]


I'd love to know how Prop. 19 is supposed to "adversely impact California’s businesses" without "bringing in the tax revenues to the state promised by its proponents". Either people will be buying lots of legal, taxed weed, or they won't... seems like it has to be one or the other, no?
posted by vorfeed at 10:51 AM on October 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


> Which is it, Gov? Are you opposed to the recreational use of marijuana - such as you are shown doing here ? Or are you just upset you're not getting more of the profits?

He used the word and. I think it's both.
posted by brenton at 10:51 AM on October 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


I hope you brought enough for the rest of the thread.
posted by The Whelk at 10:55 AM on October 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


In November 2008 Massachusetts citizens passed Question 2 which changed "the possession of an ounce or less of marijuana or THC from a criminal offense to a civil offense, making it punishable by civil penalties and forfeiture of the contraband. For an adult the offense is punishable by a $100 civil penalty and forfeiture of the contraband."

The new law went into effect on January 3, 2009.
posted by ericb at 10:55 AM on October 1, 2010


I hope you brought enough for the rest of the thread.

Who me? Sorry, I just quit smoking yesterday.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:57 AM on October 1, 2010


For those who don't know, here are some examples of weed by size. An ounce of weed is a fairly significant amount for a non-seller to have.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:58 AM on October 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


I was really hoping if you took the first letter from each line down the left hand side of the bill it would say "I'M SO HIGH RIGHT NOW."

context
posted by exogenous at 10:58 AM on October 1, 2010


Metafilter: For those who don't know, here are some examples of weed
posted by Think_Long at 10:59 AM on October 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


I was really hoping if you took the first letter from each line down the left hand side of the bill it would say "I'M SO HIGH RIGHT NOW."

*checks*

Nope.
posted by jabberjaw at 11:06 AM on October 1, 2010


Fuck Schwarzenegger. S.B. 1449 comes from Mark Leno.

And even though I love Mark Leno, this bill is sort of trivial. They set the maximum punishment (of $100) for less than 1 oz 30 years ago but never reclassified the offense as an infraction. Mark Leno fixed that, but the "crime" has been a sui generis misdemeanor ever since, i.e. essentially the same as an infraction.

An ounce of weed is a fairly significant amount for a non-seller to have.

Not really. (oh wait...)

Back in 1975, they wanted to make the limit 3 ounces.

S.B. 1449 is a (somewhat trivial and) small step forward, but hardly big news.

from link above:

As originally introduced, S.B. 95 would have made possession of not more than three ounces of marijuana an infraction, punishable by a maximum fine of $100.00. There was political resistance, however, to both the three-ounce standard and also to labeling the offense an infraction, which opponents of S.B. 95 contended sent too "permissive" a message to the public. The bill was therefore amended by the author in the Senate Judiciary Committee to make possession of one ounce or less a citable misdemeanor, rather than an infraction, in order to split law enforcement opposition to the bill and pick up the necessary votes to pass the measure out of committee.

The amendment changing the offense from an infraction to a misdemeanor resulted in a change of label more than anything else, in that an infraction was also a crime in California, and S.B. 95 created essentially a new category of low misdemeanor which was sui generis and was treated like an infraction in all critical respects. Possession of an ounce or less became a mandatory citable misdemeanor offense, punishable by fine only, not to exceed $100.00, -with no arrest, booking or jail.

Under S.B. 95, possession of more than one ounce of marijuana also became a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than six months, by a fine of not more than $500.00, or by both such fine and imprisonment. In such instances, the arresting officer has the discretion of either issuing a citation or taking the defendant into custody.

posted by mrgrimm at 11:09 AM on October 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Unless it decriminalizes growing, it does nothing to alleviate the problems caused by the illegal drug trade. People will still need to get weed from dealers, or risk growing it themselves.

I wonder how this is going to affect prop 19. Hopefully it will pass, but this seems like it's in part to head 19 off at the pass.
posted by delmoi at 11:09 AM on October 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


Anyway, it's hardly a "giant leap." I don't think it will make one iota of difference to law enforcement. Or can someone explain how? An "infraction" is still a crime.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:10 AM on October 1, 2010


Possession of marijuana remains criminal under federal law. I just thought someone should mention that.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:13 AM on October 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think the tide of marijuana legalization is only going to increase in the coming years. The number of white middle-class professionals who occasionally or socially smoke weed is probably larger than ever. Marijuana is already the largest cash-crop in extremely conservative states like South Carolina (even beating out tobacco).

Eventually, as people realize the decriminalization of weed hasn't lead directly to the apocalypse, it'll become even more socially acceptable to smoke and the cycle will continue until smoking weed is roughly as unacceptable as drinking milk straight from the carton.

In my mind, one of the biggest tragedies of the war on drugs is the utter lack of respect that Americans have cultivated for law enforcement. If you look at the interest groups that continually oppose marijuana legalization, it's always "Blah Blah County District Attorney Association", "Blah Blah State Sheriff's Association", "Blah Blah Union of Correctional Officers" and so forth.

People aren't that dumb. They know cynical political ploys when they see them. If marijuana legalization is the hill that American law enforcement wants to die on, then so be it. But they can't complain when Americans start casually disobeying other, more important laws.
posted by Avenger at 11:15 AM on October 1, 2010 [14 favorites]


what happens when state and federal law conflict like this?
posted by paradroid at 11:16 AM on October 1, 2010


what happens when state and federal law conflict like this?

I assume it means that state and local law enforcement won't bother to pursue marijuana infractions to any real degree, but if the Feds want to have their own force in the state to pursue federal charges, they can do so.
posted by hippybear at 11:19 AM on October 1, 2010


The actual big marijuana news this week is the conviction of Jovan Jackson:

Legal Marijuana Provider in San Diego Guilty of Selling Pot

ASA's response.

on preview: what happens what state and federal law conflict like this?

I don't think there's any conflict between S.B.s 95 or 1449 and federal law.

The conflict comes with Props 215 (1996) and 19 (2010).

And yeah, we've been seeing what happens for the past 15 years. It's been ... interesting, but promising.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:20 AM on October 1, 2010


what happens when state and federal law conflict like this?

It's not really a conflict. The Feds can bust you and you'd face federal charges in a federal court. That California could no longer do more than cite you for an infraction is irrelevant to that.
posted by Zed at 11:21 AM on October 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


risk growing it themselves.

How much trouble can you get in for growing it for personal use?(in california)
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:21 AM on October 1, 2010


Possession of marijuana remains criminal under federal law.

Yeah, but if you're otherwise sane and law-abiding, you have a muuuuuuch larger chance of getting busted locally than by the Feds. (just saying)

And for all the DUMBSHIT Republicans out there: this is what a sensible way to save money looks like. These are the kind of steps you take before you send the unemployed off to rot, or lower the minimum wage, or kill all stimulus spending ....
posted by Benny Andajetz at 11:24 AM on October 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


what happens when state and federal law conflict like this?

California has been a study in this conflict for the last 15 years. What happens will vary by locale; in counties where the federal enforcement agencies have the full support of the local police and prosecutors, these crimes will be prosecuted in federal court by federal prosecutors instead of in local courts, which is drastically worse for the defendants. In counties where the local police support the state law (and the residents) against the federal enforcement agencies, there are fewer such prosecutions, but the federal agencies will make a point of dramatic raids and high-profile cases. Many of these cases will be appealed, and some will make it to the Supreme Court such as Angel Raich's did.

When they get to higher courts, the judges will defer to the legislature and support the convictions, saying that if Americans want better laws, they need to work politically to change them, and a federal crime is still a federal crime regardless of state law. Aside from the occasional sympathetic or overworked prosecutor, or reasonable judge, there seems to be no way out of this system for citizens other than jury nullification.
posted by doteatop at 11:24 AM on October 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


Smoke 'em if you got 'em. By 'em I mean Benjam'ems.
posted by wcfields at 11:28 AM on October 1, 2010


Hopefully it will pass, but this seems like it's in part to head 19 off at the pass.

$100 fine for possession vs legalization of personal marijuana-related activities: it hardly seems like a comparison.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:41 AM on October 1, 2010


It's a step in the right direction, and one that I'd like to see the rest of the country get on board with.

An "infraction" is still a crime.

Yeah, but it's one that you won't get put on probation or go to jail for (unless you didn't pay the fine). It's more on par with a traffic violation (as is my not-living-in-California understanding).
posted by quin at 11:51 AM on October 1, 2010


Possession of marijuana remains criminal under federal law. I just thought someone should mention that.

Tenthers! Tenthers!

Or is the a call out for the Nullists?
posted by rough ashlar at 11:59 AM on October 1, 2010


Or is the a call out for the Nullists?

Or maybe a callout for the Firsters?
posted by mrgrimm at 12:02 PM on October 1, 2010


Unfortunately, Proposition 19 is a deeply flawed measure that, if passed, will adversely impact California’s businesses without bringing in the tax revenues to the state promised by its proponents.

Oh, I'm sorry your Honorableness, I must have missed the air-tight, revenue-generating, pot legalization bill that you introduced.
posted by General Tonic at 12:08 PM on October 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


I've never smoked it even one time (I wish in college I had been more open minded), but marijuana legalization is at the top of my issues list. We spend billions of dollars each year antagonizing, prosecuting, and imprisoning huge numbers of people - mostly minorities and poor people - for a victimless crime. The continued demonization of marijuana in the face of widespread, mostly responsible use has rightfully undermined confidence in government and law enforcement. And marijuana sales support the black market that makes our cities more dangerous and has turned parts of Mexico into a gangland.

But still, anytime there is a discussion about the topic you can count on at least one or two "pothead" or "munchies" comments, even from serious people who recognize the real harm caused by the drug war. Until legalization proponents can counteract the characterization of the issue as something applicable only to stoners and hippies - and turn it into something for small government, spending conscious, freedom loving voters - I think that they will have a difficult time getting traction.

And that really harshes my mellow.
posted by AgentRocket at 12:16 PM on October 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


Wowee, they're making nature sorta legal.

We live in an irrational, demented sci-fi story that not even L. Ron H. could've come with, and that guy could write some seriously stupid shit.
posted by dbiedny at 12:22 PM on October 1, 2010


Or maybe a callout for the Firsters?

Alas, Benard VonNothaus's church of MJ is no more.

So much for taking a toke and thinking about what you've done.
posted by rough ashlar at 12:22 PM on October 1, 2010


for a victimless crime.

*smile*
Grass Police
posted by rough ashlar at 12:23 PM on October 1, 2010


Please don't give Schwarzenegger any of the credit for this. As pointed out upthread, this bill was introduced and supported by Sen. Mark Leno. It does what Prop 5 would have done in 2008, had it passed. It's an important reform, but not really a major one.

The Governator also signed a unfortunate bill limiting medical cannabis dispensaries.

He vetoed all of my bills, so I'm particularly angry at him this morning.
posted by gingerbeer at 12:24 PM on October 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


An "infraction" is still a crime.

And an infarction can result in arrest.
posted by Zed at 12:30 PM on October 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'd love to know how Prop. 19 is supposed to "adversely impact California’s businesses" without "bringing in the tax revenues to the state promised by its proponents".

I have no idea if this is actually the case, but i'd say it's because there is already a large amount of infrastructure dedicated to the production and distribution of pot that the state makes no money on, except for those that volunteer to pay the tax at legal dispensaries. If they completely legalize-but-tax it, I'd think that infrastructure would then be used to bypass the tax, giving the tax evaders an edge on price.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 12:34 PM on October 1, 2010


The Governator also signed a unfortunate bill limiting medical cannabis dispensaries.

This is what I figured this was really about. Do you have a link for this?
posted by Big_B at 12:39 PM on October 1, 2010


An "infraction" is still a crime.

Yeah, but it's one that you won't get put on probation or go to jail for (unless you didn't pay the fine). It's more on par with a traffic violation...


Here in Massachusetts that's how it's viewed. As a matter of fact, some Massachusetts towns have given up enforcing the new marijuana law.
posted by ericb at 12:41 PM on October 1, 2010


I used to be a pretty heavy marijuana smoker. Though, by reading some of the above links, I guess I could have been smoking quite a bit more.

But staying high from when I got off work until I went to sleep had me going through about 1/8 of an ounce a week, with a little bit of sharing.

So an ounce can get you stoned daily for two straight months. It's the equivalent of multiple handles of whiskey. I knew (small-time) dealers who made a point of never having more than an ounce at a time.

Sure it's not actual legalization, but compared to what happens to you in most states if you're found with that much weed, this is amazing.

What does California do about paraphernalia?
posted by keratacon at 12:46 PM on October 1, 2010


By itself, the punishment for possession is lighter than the average speeding ticket, but I'd still be pretty careful about where I smoked. I bet they can nail you for a lot of related stuff if you're high in public, while driving or while a driver could be inhaling your smoke, while you're with or anywhere near your children or anyone else's, while you're doing pretty much anything that could be considered even slightly more dangerous to yourself or someone else if you're high.
posted by pracowity at 12:52 PM on October 1, 2010


Sure it's not actual legalization, but compared to what happens to you in most states if you're found with that much weed, this is amazing

Did you miss the part where it's been this way since 1975?
posted by mrgrimm at 1:12 PM on October 1, 2010


Big_B: "The Governator also signed a unfortunate bill limiting medical cannabis dispensaries.

This is what I figured this was really about. Do you have a link for this?
"

Sure. He signed AB 2650. The final version was watered down quite a bit from the original, but it's still unfortunate. It is at least consistent with existing local ordinances in places like San Francisco and Berkeley and should do minimal harm to existing dispensaries.

Leno's bill is unrelated to medical cannabis, and doesn't touch the affirmative defense for possession for medical purposes under state law.
posted by gingerbeer at 1:13 PM on October 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


What does California do about paraphernalia?

"Marijuana paraphernalia are illegal to sell or manufacture, but not possess, under Health and Safety Code 11364. All marijuana paraphernalia are subject to seizure by the police."

- Guide to California's Marijuana Laws, California NORML
posted by mrgrimm at 1:17 PM on October 1, 2010


I have no idea if this is actually the case, but i'd say it's because there is already a large amount of infrastructure dedicated to the production and distribution of pot that the state makes no money on, except for those that volunteer to pay the tax at legal dispensaries. If they completely legalize-but-tax it, I'd think that infrastructure would then be used to bypass the tax, giving the tax evaders an edge on price.

The problem is that the high price of marijuana depends almost entirely on its illegality. Legal, taxed, widespread weed is likely to drive prices way down, not up. Besides, convenience is a powerful thing. Street dealers in California are already losing business to dispensaries, despite the fact that they've adjusted their prices to compete. I think most people will be more than willing to pay taxes in exchange for legality, reliability, and convenience.

Non-taxed marijuana will always be around, but it's not likely to keep ridiculous amount of money from being made on taxed marijuana. I suspect that marijuana tourism will become big business in California if Prop 19 passes... and nobody's going to fly to post-legalization California just so they can score from a dealer.
posted by vorfeed at 1:32 PM on October 1, 2010


What does California do about paraphernalia?

It's basically like buying shoes: you have to go to a "special" store, but it's not in any way sketchy. Nice retail storefront, everything on display in well-lit glass counters.

On preview: it's illegal to sell? Huh. You wouldn't know it from buying. Perhaps they print "tobacco vaporizer" on the receipt?
posted by ryanrs at 1:35 PM on October 1, 2010


Legal, taxed, widespread weed is likely to drive prices way down, not up.

Dispensaries are legal and widespread, but they don't seem to have driven prices down.
posted by ryanrs at 1:37 PM on October 1, 2010


it's illegal to sell? Huh. You wouldn't know it from buying.

So it's illegal to sell and illegal to grow??? That's fucked up. They force the smoker to go through an illegal and unregulated supply chain that, let's face it, isn't probably all that great for some people south of the border. This makes no sense. Why didn't they just go ahead and implement prop 19? I mean then not only would they be saving money they'd be making money. Baby steps I guess. Wait I mean giant leaps...whatever.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 1:53 PM on October 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dispensaries are legal and widespread, but they don't seem to have driven prices down.

Dispensaries have a monopoly on the legal market, and a clientele which is almost exclusively used to paying street prices for marijuana. Neither condition will exist forever. Large-scale production will eventually come into play, and large companies won't pass up the obvious opportunity to compete on price...
posted by vorfeed at 2:29 PM on October 1, 2010


I saw a comment elsewhere that the $100 infraction fine comes with a bonus set of fees and "assessments", so the total comes to $300 plus. I think this link explains the costs, although I'm not clear whether possession falls under the CA vehicle code. Perhaps a lawyerly type could confirm?

California's 2010 Uniform Bail and Penalty Schedules, Preface, section V.

The rest of this document explains the eye-wateringly expensive nature of being on the wrong side of the law. Nevertheless, an infraction seems quite cheaper than a misdemeanor....
posted by Jubal Kessler at 3:50 PM on October 1, 2010


People could avoid cigarette taxes by getting a pipe and smoking their own homegrown tobacco, but most don't.

I don't think legalized weed would be any different.
posted by Leta at 3:52 PM on October 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


illegal to grow??? That's fucked up.

Here's where it gets interesting.....the federal illegality is tied to interstate commerce. That's why the medical MJ has a clause where it must be grown within the state.
And in 1940 - what you did for yourself was thusly tied to Interstate commerce.

Wickard v. Filburn got to the Supreme Court, and in 1942, the justices unanimously ruled against the farmer. The government claimed that if Mr. Filburn grew wheat for his own use, he would not be buying it — and that affected interstate commerce. It also argued that if the price of wheat rose, which is what the government wanted, Mr. Filburn might be tempted to sell his surplus wheat in the interstate market, thwarting the government's objective.
posted by rough ashlar at 3:53 PM on October 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not a big fan of the Cato institute, but have to agree that Wickard v. Filburn seems a rather perverse decision. Given the context, some readers might find interest in a dissent by Justice Thomas from the majority in Gonzales v. Raich.

Jubal Kessler, you're about right. Quite a few of these fees are new in the last few years, and are the result of the California budget crisis. The alternative is to cut jobs or have the courts closed more frequently, which would increase the backlog of cases even further.

Unsurprisingly, the levying of these fees has in turn generated appeals against them on questions such as whether it is fair to levy an administrative fee that didn't exist at the time the crime was committed on someone who was convicted after the fee had been established. however, the number of such appeals may subside as precedents are set for the most common situations. Another attempt to save money involves expedited jury trials, which are a little like arbitration and are designed to run no more than a few hours (relax, it's strictly voluntary, and only for civil cases by mutual agreement of the parties).

IANAL btw.
posted by anigbrowl at 4:24 PM on October 1, 2010


East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 writes "Possession of marijuana remains criminal under federal law. I just thought someone should mention that."

How many people were convicted in California on federal charges of less than an ounce in the last year?
posted by Mitheral at 11:53 PM on October 1, 2010


large companies won't pass up the obvious opportunity to compete on price...

So I've been thinking about what that might look like, corporately speaking. Naturally there will be several layers of corporate shielding between the parent agribusiness conglomorate and their California experiment. And I wouldn't be surprised to see some sort of joint venture, where several large farming corps making substantial investments in one California startup. This will dilute the bad PR if things don't go well. It also makes the corporate separation that much stronger when no one company has a controlling interest in the startup.

The large farming corps are smart enough to know they aren't competing against each other; at least not at first. In the beginning, they are the new guys competing against a large field of established independents. I gotta think they're going to compete on price. The previous black-market conditions strongly disincentivized capital investment. I suspect the average grow-op has less than one harvest's value invested in equipment and infrastructure. I believe the first commercial weed will be substantially cheaper than today's black-market product. However, it's also possible that initial output will be kept low while the legal situation is tested.

One of the more noticeable changes I expect at the consumer level is the branding of weed. Today, growers don't have brands. There are a bunch of strains of weed with silly names, but no real brands or visible grower identity. That won't do for commercial weed. Companies will want to establish weed brands made up of a variety of weed products. This helps establish price points and relative quality, allows differentiated marketing strategies, and other things that big corps like. At the same time, each brand strengthens the whole.

Also expect better quality control as agribusiness brings McDonalds-style product consistency. This is another area they will be able to outdo the independent growers. Extreme consistency isn't that valuable right now because brands don't exist.
posted by ryanrs at 7:42 AM on October 2, 2010


How many people were convicted in California on federal charges of less than an ounce in the last year?

Federal prosecutors charged four people with possession of marijuana in California last year. That's not the yearly total -- that's the number who appeared before one judge on one day. One of them was the famous blogger/writer Andrew Sullivan, who was caught with just one joint. The charges against him, but not the other three defendants, were dropped. I don't know if they were convicted. So this doesn't literally answer your question, but federal prosecution for possession of tiny amounts of marijuana does happen in California.
posted by John Cohen at 7:56 AM on October 2, 2010


Federal prosecutors charged four people with possession of marijuana in California last year. ... The charges against him, but not the other three defendants, were dropped.

Last time I checked Cape Cod is in Massachusetts. Oh, and your linked article points that out, too!
posted by ericb at 8:06 AM on October 2, 2010


BTW -- the only reason Sullivan was initially charged was he was smoking a joint of the federally-owned National Cape Cod Seashore beach in Provincetown. If he had been on the adjoining road, etc. he would have been fined $100 with no other penalty -- as per Massachusetts new marijuana law (mentioned above).
posted by ericb at 8:10 AM on October 2, 2010


Snoop Dogg: "Man, I go through that much before breakfast."
posted by bwg at 11:40 AM on October 2, 2010


Yeah, that's Massachusetts, not California.

On the other hand, 61,400 people were arrested in California in 2008 for state misdemeanor possession, up 127% from 1990. That's nearly 25% of all drug arrests in the state. 62% of those were people of color, and 42% under age 20.
posted by gingerbeer at 2:27 PM on October 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Those stats show the good of this bill. 60K+ infractions is a lot better than 60K+ misdemeanours who ever you want to measure it.
posted by Mitheral at 2:47 PM on October 2, 2010


John Cohen writes "I don't know if they were convicted. So this doesn't literally answer your question, but federal prosecution for possession of tiny amounts of marijuana does happen in California."

I didn't doubt it happened; if only as the result of plea deals. I was just wondering about the magnitude of the charges.
posted by Mitheral at 2:48 PM on October 2, 2010


If marijuana legalization is the hill that American law enforcement wants to die on, then so be it. But they can't complain when Americans start casually disobeying other, more important laws.
So it's a gateway law.
posted by frenetic at 5:53 PM on October 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Or can someone explain how? An "infraction" is still a crime.

Broadly, the definition of crime is an offense for which a punishment of imprisonment can be imposed. Thus, if you cannot go to jail/prison for it, it is not a crime. Everything else is going to be called an infraction, or a violation, or some other term that is not "crime" (depending on where you are), and will generally mean the worst that can happen is getting a fine.

That is why getting a simple speeding ticket does not make you a criminal, because while speed may be against the law, it's not a crime. *
posted by Menthol at 2:42 AM on October 3, 2010


I'm not a big fan of the Cato institute,

Does that invalidate the raw data? As an example - A picture of Richard Grasso with FARC leadership comes via LaRouche. Should one ignore the data because it comes from LaRouche?

but have to agree that Wickard v. Filburn seems a rather perverse decision

Ex CA Sup. Court John Grey claims 95% of the Fed crimes need Wickard v. Filburn to be enforceable.
posted by rough ashlar at 4:08 PM on October 3, 2010


60K+ infractions is a lot better than 60K+ misdemeanours who ever you want to measure it.

Can you elaborate? I talked to a lawyer last week who thinks there could be some negative results because of this law.

One of them would be that, if you wanted to plead not guilty, a misdemeanor charge guarantees a trial by jury. An infraction does not.

So why is a (non-probationary, non-prison) misdemeanor any worse than an infraction?
posted by mrgrimm at 10:22 AM on October 4, 2010




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