Yesterday, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill that downgrades the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana from a misdemeanor to a civil infraction.
This new law means that the more than 60,000 people who are arrested in California every year for small-time marijuana possession will no longer be arrested, given criminal records, or have to appear in court. Instead, they will receive a $100 fine similar to a parking citation. SB 1449 will also save California untold millions in reduced court costs.
And as Paul Armentano at NORML points out, this change will still have a positive impact on California’s marijuana laws even if Prop 19, the measure to make marijuana legal for all adults, passes:
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.
Remember, only 17 days left to register to vote in California.