California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed Senate Bill 1449, effectively reducing possession of less than an ounce of pot from a misdemeanor crime to an infraction. In a statement issued to members of the California State Senate, the Governator warned that he still does not support Proposition 19 or the decriminalization of marijuana in general. Instead, he sought to frame his decision to sign the bill as primarily motivated by budgetary issues.
"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,"Â Schwarzenegger said in the statement. The punishment for possession of less than an ounce of pot in California will remain the same at $100.
It's a smart move on the part of Schwarzenneger. There's not question that prosecuting individuals caught with small amounts of marijuana is a huge waste of taxpayer dollars. The bill does not legalize pot, but rather continues a trend of making the punishment for possession suit the nature of the crime. There's still an abundance of overly harsh anti-marijuana regulations on the books. Students caught with pot can have their student loans suspended for more than a year, more than that for repeat offenders. That's the type of punishment that can ruin a person life. Pretty word for a country supposedly governed by a Constitution that bans cruel and unusual punishment.
Photo by Erik Fenderson