Pubdate: Tue, 4 Jan 2011
Source: Paradise Post (CA)
Copyright: 2011 Paradise Post


Marijuana laws in the state of California are a mess, and have been
since the passage of Proposition 215. This past November, voters
decided not to go ahead and legalize the drug when they had the chance
to do so.

Now, while not everyone who voted against legalization of marijuana
did so because of the principle of legalization, it's clear that a
majority of voters weren't comfortable with the legislation. Just
prior to the proposition's Election Day defeat, Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger signed into law Senate Bill 1149, reducing possession
of less than 28.5 grams of marijuana from a misdemeanor with $100 fine
to an infraction.

No longer is it a misdemeanor - no jail time or criminal records for
offenders, reducing possession of a little pot to nothing more serious
than a speeding ticket. There are several issues that need to be
addressed here. First, crimes associated with Prop. 215, which
approved medical marijuana grows, are increasing at a rate that should
alarm everyone. Law enforcement is dealing with an element that is
becoming increasingly dangerous. The law allows 58 counties to set 58
different rules.

As much as we like local control, the state needs to employ far
stricter regulations as it relates to medical Marijuana. Perhaps it's
time for those who grow marijuana for medical purposes to dispense it
via licensed pharmacists who are authorized by written prescriptions
from real doctors.

After all, we're talking about medical marijuana.

The decision to reduce the crime from a misdemeanor to an infraction
has merit, but we'd tweak it a bit. According to Sen. Mark Leno, who
authored the change, there were 61,388 arrests for possession of
marijuana in 2008.

"Defendants may demand an entire jury trial - including the costs of
jury selection, defense, and court time - for a penalty of only $100,"
he said.

A waste of court time - which we concur with, given it's a $100 fine.
Speeding tickets are more expensive than that. It seems to us that
reducing marijuana possession to an infraction makes sense, but the
fine is far too small. It nearly decriminalizes it after the voters
essentially said no to that.

Speeding fines are meant to discourage speed. Marijuana fines should
discourage marijuana use, for no other reason than to discourage its
use among our youth.  
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake