Weed Wars

Dispatches from the California Marijuana Front

April 19, 2010
Leno bill seeks to make simple possession an infraction

As California's marijuana movement and a few thousand pot smokers celebrated today's 4th of July of weed, state Sen. Mark Leno convened an April 20 session of his public safety committee in a bid to make possession of an ounce or less an infraction.

Under California law, people arrested for simple possession face a penalty akin to an infraction - a fine of $100. But they are still charged with a misdemeanor.

But Leno, who notably returned a call on his pot bill at 4:20 p.m. last week, said misdemeanor marijuana arrests are clogging California courts for something that should be dismissed quicker than a parking ticket.

In 2008, 61,388 people in California were arrested for misdemeanor marijuana offenses.

"The question is why are we wasting a million dollars and clogging our courtrooms with what, in fact, is an infraction," Leno said.

An argument for his Senate Bill 1449 said making possession of less than an ounce an infraction "will allow prosecutors to expedite hearings and free up much needed court resources for more serious offenses."

While Leno's bill is supported by the California Judicial Council, the California Drug Policy Alliance and the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, it is opposed by many law enforcement groups.

The bill passed Leno's committee this afternoon.

But John Lovell, a lobbyist for the California narcotics officers, peace officers and police chiefs associations, said its odds of ultimate passage are remote.

Lovell said the measure would dry up incentives for drug treatment, which is often negotiated in plea deals or sentencing agreements.

"If you have an incentive to remove that misdemeanor from your record, you're inclined to go into a treatment program," Lovell said. "And we can all agree that drug treatment is a good thing."

About Comments

Reader comments on Sacbee.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Sacramento Bee. If you see an objectionable comment, click the "report abuse" button below it. We will delete comments containing inappropriate links, obscenities, hate speech, and personal attacks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. See more about comments here.

What You Should Know About Comments on Sacbee.com

Sacbee.com is happy to provide a forum for reader interaction, discussion, feedback and reaction to our stories. However, we reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments or ban users who can't play nice. (See our full terms of service here.)

Here are some rules of the road:

• Keep your comments civil. Don't insult one another or the subjects of our articles. If you think a comment violates our guidelines click the "report abuse" button to notify the moderators. Responding to the comment will only encourage bad behavior.

• Don't use profanities, vulgarities or hate speech. This is a general interest news site. Sometimes, there are children present. Don't say anything in a way you wouldn't want your own child to hear.

• Do not attack other users; focus your comments on issues, not individuals.

• Stay on topic. Only post comments relevant to the article at hand. If you want to discuss an issue with a specific user, click on his profile name and send him a direct message.

• Do not copy and paste outside material into the comment box.

• Don't repeat the same comment over and over. We heard you the first time.

• Do not use the commenting system for advertising. That's spam and it isn't allowed.

• Don't use all capital letters. That's akin to yelling and not appreciated by the audience.

You should also know that The Sacramento Bee does not screen comments before they are posted. You are more likely to see inappropriate comments before our staff does, so we ask that you click the "report abuse" button to submit those comments for moderator review. You also may notify us via email at feedback@sacbee.com. Note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us the profile name of the user who made the comment. Remember, comment moderation is subjective. You may find some material objectionable that we won't and vice versa.

If you submit a comment, the user name of your account will appear along with it. Users cannot remove their own comments once they have submitted them, but you may ask our staff to retract one of your comments by sending an email to feedback@sacbee.com. Again, make sure you note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us your profile name.

hide comments

On October 14, The Sacramento Bee will temporarily remove commenting from sacbee.com. While we design the upgrade, we encourage you to tell us what you like and don't like about commenting on sacbee.com and other websites. We've heard from hundreds of you already and we're listening. Please continue to add your thoughts and questions here. We also encourage you to write Letters to the Editor on this and other topics.



About Weed Wars

Peter Hecht

From its pot fields to politics, California is the epicenter for America's marijuana discussion. This blog covers news, trends and people of the California marijuana story.

Contact reporter Peter Hecht at phecht@sacbee.com

» See the sacbee.com marijuana topics page

FOLLOW US | Get more from sacbee.com | Follow us on Twitter | Become a fan on Facebook | Watch Bee news, lifestyle videos | View our mobile versions | e-edition: Print edition online | What our bloggers are saying

October 2013

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
    1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31