Schwarzenegger Signs Bill Making Less than an Ounce an Infraction
In a sign of the changing attitudes towards marijuana, yesterday Governor Schwarzenegger signed Senate Bill 1449. As of January 1, 2011, the bill reduces possession of less than an ounce from a misdemeanor to an infraction. Under the current law, the person in possession faces a $100 fine, may appeal in court (necessitating huge expenses to the State for a trial), and has an arrest record.
SB 1449 changes this. The person is given a $100 fine but will not have an arrest record. Mostly this is good for both the smoker (no record to declare when applying for jobs, etc.) and the state (as there will be much less court costs associated with infractions.) Schwarzenegger said, “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. However, there will be no option of appealing in court which could be frustrating to a truly innocent person.
Should Prop. 19 pass, it currently has misdemeanor charges for smoking in public and in front of minors (the latter has been a concern of growers with families.) SB1449 changes these to infractions–simple $100 dollar fines.