by David Downs
On the cusp of the potential legalization of cannabis, once harsh California laws can't get soft enough. Petty pot offenses that are currently a misdemeanor could soon be downgraded to the status of "infraction," under a new bill wending its way through the state capital, with the support of California's District Attorneys.
Dale Gieringer, at California's NORML chapter notes:
SACRAMENTO - On April 20th (fittingly enough) the Senate Public Safety Commitee voted 5-2 to approve Mark Leno's bill SB 1449 to downgrade possession of less than one ounce of marijuana from a misdemeanor to an infraction. Although it was supported by all the drug reform groups, what ensured the bill's passage was support from the California DA's association and the Judicial Council, which complained of the burden to the courts of processing misdemeanor cases for an offense whose maximal punishment is a $100 fine. The bill was opposed by CNOA lobbyist John Lovell, who argued that it was "axiomatic" that users of "powerful, mind-altering drugs" should be forced into treatment wherever possible. In written testimony, Cal NORML argued that the bill would save the state millions of dollars in enforcement costs. As usual, the vote was along party lines, with Republicans supporting the costly, invasive, big-government program of pot criminalization by opposing SB 1449.
The bill heads to a third reading in the Senate today.