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Oct-01-2010 01:46printcomments

Governor Schwarzenegger Signs Bill to Reduce Marijuana Penalties in California

The new bill changes marijuana possession of less than an ounce to an infraction.

Schwarzenegger marijuana

(SACRAMENTO) - From California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, on September 30, 2010.

To the Members of the California State Senate:

I am signing Senate Bill 1449.

This bill changes the crime of possession of less than an ounce of marijuana from a misdemeanor punishable only by a $100 fine to an infraction punishable by a $100 fine. Under existing law, jail time cannot be imposed, probation cannot be ordered, nor can the base fine exceed $100 for someone convicted of this crime.

I am opposed to decriminalizing the possession and recreational use of marijuana and oppose Proposition 19, which is on the November ballot.

Unfortunately, Proposition 19 is a deeply flawed measure that, if passed, will adversely impact California’s businesses without bringing in the tax revenues to the state promised by its proponents.

Notwithstanding my opposition to Proposition 19, however, I am signing this measure because possession of less than an ounce of marijuana is an infraction in everything but name. The only difference is that because it is a misdemeanor, a criminal defendant is entitled to a jury trial and a defense attorney.

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.

As noted by the Judicial Council in its support of this measure, the appointment of counsel and the availability of a jury trial should be reserved for defendants who are facing loss of life, liberty, or property greater than $100.

For these reasons, I am signing this bill.

Arnold Schwarzenegger


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Anonymous October 8, 2010 10:21 pm (Pacific time)

Facebook founder donates to California marijuana vote

mj October 4, 2010 7:26 am (Pacific time)

hmm, i bet busts for possession increase. now the state will get money from the fine and not have to pay for court costs.

dom October 4, 2010 5:27 am (Pacific time)

Anonymous October 2, 2010 9:04 am (Pacific time)

It is impossible to legalize marijuana and arnold knows this, that is why he signed this bill..why is it impossible? You have no idea the amount of banks that would go bankrupt without the money laundering, and the amount of money the military industrial complex makes off of it also. (google: wachovia bank launders drug money)..Its in the tens of billions of dollars, and thats just Wachovia. Our government would never do something like that you say? We dont have a government, the banks and corporations run this country. It really is time for people to wake up, in fact, it might be too late.

SunBeachesandBUD October 2, 2010 10:34 am (Pacific time)

AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW! nice to be a Californian

amplitude jones October 2, 2010 9:54 am (Pacific time)

Just make sure that the claim"but i was stoned' is NOT a positive defense. In other words: commit a crime, high, sober, sleepwalking and you are held accountable and get prosecuted. The one good thing would be if coke freaks stopped buying that evil crap and just grew their own grass and put the drug cartels out of business.

Rob Taylor October 2, 2010 9:47 am (Pacific time)

Well, you can definitely tell what the readership of is mostly interested in.

Jimi October 2, 2010 9:06 am (Pacific time)

This and passing Prop 19 will go a long way in removing the profit motives of the cartels here in California. Maybe I can go hiking in the Sierra National Forest without carrying a gun with me?

Anonymous October 2, 2010 9:04 am (Pacific time)

It is impossible to legalize marijuana and arnold knows this, that is why he signed this bill..why is it impossible? You have no idea the amount of banks that would go bankrupt without the money laundering, and the amount of money the military industrial complex makes off of it also. (google: wachovia bank launders drug money)..Its in the tens of billions of dollars, and thats just Wachovia. Our government would never do something like that you say? We dont have a government, the banks and corporations run this country. It really is time for people to wake up, in fact, it might be too late.

wayne October 2, 2010 8:13 am (Pacific time)

.. but we can afford to distribute the welfare, unemployment benefits, etc to many of these people .......... we cannot afford Liberalism

Rhandi October 2, 2010 7:28 am (Pacific time)

I wish I'm in Cali . :)

codeman October 2, 2010 6:34 am (Pacific time)

I congratulate Arnold for signing this bill. It's not good enough though as we need legalization. They will still be in helicopters searching for weed, busting growers and spending huge amounts of tax dollars. It will still be a crime to distribute marijuana so if a person is just a consumer, he needs to purchase from an illegal source. The thugs and crime associated with prohibition is still there in full force. Ca needs to pass prop 19 to see this violence stop.

Sass October 2, 2010 5:31 am (Pacific time)

Now if they wise up they'll decriminalize prostitution, abolish vice squads and free up a lot more of the courts time...

Keir October 2, 2010 1:06 am (Pacific time)

If a crime is determined by how much trouble it will cost the authorities to prosecute and is thus subject to the vagaries of time and whoever happens to be in power, then it should never be considered an offence worth gaol in the first place.

jthc October 1, 2010 10:12 pm (Pacific time)

I approve and I also support Prop 19. Gov't has no business telling you what you can put in your own body and has no business outlawing a plant. Legalize it and tax it. I just don't see society falling apart since most people already have no desire to do it and those that do can already get it.

Lucille Virdell October 1, 2010 9:38 pm (Pacific time)

You are 100% correct, Governor Schwarzenegger. To continue to tie the courts up with such petty cases is fiscally irresponsible. Please keep up the good work.

Anonymous October 1, 2010 7:31 pm (Pacific time)

in other words , we cant spend money on putting criminals in jail, we have too many pensions to pay.

Nick Jones the 2nd October 1, 2010 6:50 pm (Pacific time)

I am an idiot....guys and so is my brother Nick Jones.

Business Owner October 1, 2010 6:13 pm (Pacific time)

By completely legealizing pot, and eliminating the past arrests and convictions from peoples arrest records, we will allow people to hold jobs which they can not currently hold because of their arrest records. Incomes will increase, the economy will get better.

Mark Godfrey October 1, 2010 5:54 pm (Pacific time)

Thank you Governor! You need to rethink Prop 19, but still thank you kindly good sir!

getalife October 1, 2010 5:27 pm (Pacific time)

Where does the line start to buy?

SailorAP October 1, 2010 5:21 pm (Pacific time)

I recall that in a recent Euro Cup Soccor match, the French were asking the police to hand out MJ because it cooled out the hot tempered fans to keep them from rioting where beer makes men want to fight! Works for me!

Anonymous October 1, 2010 4:48 pm (Pacific time)

Salem-News challenges readers with global in depth front line news about life and death issues from war to modern day slavery. Fairness issues post for days with one maybe two relevant comments. However, mention marijuana and the termites turn the wood loose long enough to get involved. Hallelujah!

Really? October 1, 2010 4:25 pm (Pacific time)

Are you flipping potheads that stupid? This does nothing to change any law to your favor, and nothing for or against the legalization of pot. If anything thil is a setback, all this changes, I repeat, all this changes is you now are not allowed a jury or court apointed defense. The penalty, fines ect are the same umber this bill as they were you just apparently cannot read.

Mr Nice Guy October 1, 2010 2:46 pm (Pacific time)

Where are we going to grow this crop at? Right near da beach, boy-eee!

Michael Kielsky October 1, 2010 2:37 pm (Pacific time)

You want to see a real change on this issue in Arizona then help elect a pro-freedom County Attorney in Maricopa County (which has about 2/3 of Arizona's population). I make a simple pledge -- As Maricopa County Attorney, I will devote the resources of the office to the prosecution of those individuals who have committed crimes involving force or fraud against another, identifiable, victim -- with a focus on victim restitution. Until such time as these efforts no longer consume all resources of the office, no efforts will be expended on prosecution of victimless crimes (such as simple possession). After all, Arizona's Constitution makes clear that the purpose of government is the protection of individual rights -- government should not become the primary agent of violating the rights of individuals, including the right just to be left alone. California now recognizes this as a problem (which it is, both for budget and resource reasons, but also because of freedom and humanitarian reasons). Missouri Supreme Court Chief Justice seems on the same page with me about certain prosecutions: "Perhaps the biggest waste of resources in all of state government is the ... over-incarceration of nonviolent offenders and our mishandling of drug and alcohol offenders. It is costing us billions of dollars and it is not making a dent in crime." That is the Chief Justice of a state supreme court saying this. Yes, that's what I'm talking about. Let's see real change in Arizona, vote Michael Kielsky for Maricopa County Attorney.

Chris Kelty October 1, 2010 2:37 pm (Pacific time)

I imagine this will allow for the rest of the country to see what happens in California as far as positive and negative results. I frankly cannot see where this will be a big revenue producer in the final numbers crunch. You will have a huge underground market that will not be taxed, including people who will just grow their own. How this will impact work productivity and treatment programs, increased traffic accidents is anyone's guess. Most people out there obey the laws, so when you have this turn from a crime to an infraction, more people will be using and this may end up creating some problems, maybe not. But the rest of America (and the world) will be looking to see what happens. I expect that if no revenue comes in that will increase the government coffers, you may see new laws coming in like we have against moonshiners and selling smokes without tax stamps. In a few years we should have plenty of data considering the huge population in California.

CJM in IL October 1, 2010 2:25 pm (Pacific time)

This is a good start. No one should be in jail for posession of marijuana. Why not just make it legal? We need hemp as a new industry.

Nick Jones October 1, 2010 12:49 pm (Pacific time)

"Truly a "green" initiative. Let the lefties keep California, or better yet sede it back to Mexico. Now all the stoners will kick back, get high, and bilk the rest of the states for tax dollars to bail out their failing economy because a majority of the work force will be stoned, therefore not producing. Great move!! Moron."

Hmmm...Im just curious as to your last sentence. You said the workforce will be stoned if we legalized marijuana and thus, if i understand your sentence correctly, will be to lazy to produce a stable economy. If your theory is correct, why is everyone not drunk at work? You can't logically think that legalizing a drug will ruin the economy. Look at Amsterdam and The Czech Republic. Are their economies wiped out because they smoke some pot/decriminalized pot? Not to mention white drugs like heroin and cocaine.

YES ON 19 October 1, 2010 1:45 pm (Pacific time)

Vote YES on 19 - the opponents called "Public Safety First" are hypocrites funded by Alcohol Lobby CBBD... Pot heals and Alcohol destroys... Vote YES ON 19

To the Editor: October 1, 2010 1:37 pm (Pacific time)

Odd, you say? Why? The letter the Governor wrote to the state senate is very clearly built around his opinion of several subjects, notably the effect of prosecutions on the state budget and the potential "impact" on interested business, namely businesses which would directly compete for citizens' entertainment dollars should marajuana become legal, and the shortfall which would affect corrections facilities which strive to maintain high profitability by incarcerating minorities for the largely victimless crime of possession. Wine manufacturers and privatized corrections companies are upset that pot could eat into their profitablity. What is Odd is how you fail to grasp the connection between the Governor's paying corporate interests and his opinion of the legislation contained within Prop. 19 as worded in the aforementioned letter to the state senate. Who's opinion don't you recognize as an opinion? Clearly the letter Arnold wrote to the senate describe's Arnold's opinion of the matter.

 EDITOR: What was odd was your accusation of bias intent toward our writer rather than Arnold. We see now that you were being critical of the Gov, thanks for clarifying. 

GozieBoy October 1, 2010 1:37 pm (Pacific time)

Dude, after Obama opens the border (wide open, that is) then it will not be long before CA will not be able to afford prosecuting all of the mugging, raping and murders that will inundate the state.

Randell Young October 1, 2010 1:16 pm (Pacific time)

How can a man be said to be free if he doesn’t even have sovereignty over his own body? No true conservative, indeed, no true American would ever even question why marijuana should be legalized. “Government exists to protect us from each other. Where government has gone beyond its limits is in deciding to protect us from ourselves.” - Ronald Reagan We know from their written records that presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both grew marijuana on their farms in Virginia – and neither one so much as applied to the state for a permit. “Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.” – Thomas Jefferson Presidents Bill Clinton, George Bush and Clueless Comrade Barry have all admitted to smoking marijuana to get high. That’s at least five presidents of the United States that would be felons under the marijuana prohibition laws of several states– even though their actions brought no harm to anyone. This is ridiculous. It makes no difference what the “unintended consequences” are or may be concerning a man’s right to do that which does no harm to another. For the spirit of man to ascend, men must be free to make their own choices, even their own mistakes, especially, in fact, their own mistakes. “It will be found an unjust and unwise jealousy to deprive a man of his natural liberty upon the supposition he may abuse it.” – George Washington In the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, no one cares what you smoke or how many harmless plants you grow as long as you’re not out trying to rape, rob or murder somebody or figure out a way to scam a handout from your productive countrymen. We need to send these Nanny State Fascists back to Europe where they belong and return this country to the Rugged Individualists who know what freedom and free enterprise are all about. “Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.” – Abraham Lincoln Sic simper tyrannis.

GRAM October 1, 2010 12:39 pm (Pacific time)

So.... do you get too keep your weed too? A blatent attempt to get the "stoner " vote..!

ChrisInAR October 1, 2010 12:21 pm (Pacific time)

I hope this wasn't Arnold's way of pulling the rug out from in under Prop 19 and its supporters. However, I am going to look @ this in a positive light: maybe the Governator is able to see the writing on the wall and realize that Prop 19 has so much support from the People that he felt like he had no other choice.

Citizen October 1, 2010 12:21 pm (Pacific time)

All the money spent trying to keep the evil marijuana out of the hands of CONSENTING ADULTS who are harming NOBODY with the use of this PLANT, is the REAL travesty!! It is absolutely ABSURD how many BILLIONS of OUR dollars have gone to keep US from making OUR OWN DECISIONS with OUR bodies!!!!!!!!!!

Cranios October 1, 2010 12:20 pm (Pacific time)

I am not a Californian, have never smoked marijuana, and am a dyed in the wool right-winger, but I think outlawing a weed is one of the dumbest things this country ever wasted its time and money on. IMO it should be totally legal to own as much as you like. If people want to make themselves dumb by using it, let them. The only bad part is that once they are smoked dumb, we'll have more voters for the Democratic party.

GunnyG October 1, 2010 12:10 pm (Pacific time)

HAHA! Guess the Socialist State of Mexifornia finally ran out of OPM (Other People's Money!) What a joke that state is.

typical October 1, 2010 11:03 am (Pacific time)

Somehow I bet the state will find enough resources to accelerate the collection of $100-each extortion money from its citizens.

DrFinch October 1, 2010 11:02 am (Pacific time)

Hey great move Dumbinator; now you could use all the $$ saved on the pot prosecutions and fork it over to the illegals that have been bleeding Ca. for decades. What are you going to decriminalize next?

Campaign Watchdog October 1, 2010 10:14 am (Pacific time)

This bill was intended to prevent the citizens from voting for Proposition 19. The Governor almost let's the cat out of the bag: "Proposition 19...will adversely impact California’s businesses"
If you want to know which businesses, check out the more than $190,000 the Governor accepted from the "beverage" (soda pop?) and private prison industries
(use the search options to find the term, "beverage")
Here are a few contributors:


Mark October 1, 2010 7:47 am (Pacific time)

He's all for marijuana legalization, just don't call it legalization. Vote yes on Prop 19 to return the manufacture and distribution back to American entrepreneurs from criminals. Vote yes on Prop 19 to return regulation and control to government from criminals.

ADM October 1, 2010 10:45 am (Pacific time)

They can't afford to prosecute because all the money goes to the bloated state government, with it's thousands of bureaucrats, their high salaries, their pensions and the millions on welfare.

ALS October 1, 2010 10:29 am (Pacific time)

California cannot legalize any drug the Federal Governemnt says is illegal. If they do, they are in effect saying the Federal Government does not have the Constitutional right to interfere with a States drug laws. So then, how does the same Federal Governemnt have a right to mandate the State join Obamacare?

highted Oxypants October 1, 2010 10:28 am (Pacific time)

high times ahead arnold The Gov of California did the evil weed anyhow. Let's ride stoner dude

Anonymous October 1, 2010 10:14 am (Pacific time)

Truly a "green" initiative. Let the lefties keep California, or better yet sede it back to Mexico. Now all the stoners will kick back, get high, and bilk the rest of the states for tax dollars to bail out their failing economy because a majority of the work force will be stoned, therefore not producing. Great move!! Moron.

Garrett October 1, 2010 10:02 am (Pacific time)

Courts cannot afford to prosecute. Up the fines and court costs. DUH! They would have no problem raising taxes on everyone.

LITTLE JOHNNY October 1, 2010 9:55 am (Pacific time)


ra44mr2 October 1, 2010 9:55 am (Pacific time)

This seems to me to be the perfect compromise. Although it doesnt legalize it completely it allows us to free up time and money to go after real criminals, it allows people to do it if they like without fear of losing their homes or property or going to jail or all of the above. But it doesnt legalize it and although i may disagree with those that are against pot they are a large bloc of people in this country. I dont use it at all but im all for legalizing it, but i also understand there are those that have real reasons to be against it even if i disagree with those reasons they are still opinions that i should respect.

anon October 1, 2010 9:47 am (Pacific time)

drive time. time to lower the convertible top and smoke a bunch of dubbies on the way to nowhere.

robert October 1, 2010 9:44 am (Pacific time)

my daughter and son in law are police officers in canada. they, and i, are opposed to legalization because the costs to society will be far greater than the supposed benefits - see tobacco and alcohol abuse for evidence. however, we are all in favour of decriminalization, which is what arnie has done. this is a good move.

chris October 1, 2010 9:43 am (Pacific time)

It's about time way to go CA. I hope other states follow this example. And Stop wasting tax payers money.

Phoebe October 1, 2010 9:43 am (Pacific time)

Thank God, I do not live in California. Are you people all crazy?????

thegratefuldad October 1, 2010 9:41 am (Pacific time)

Couldnt they have made it an ounce plus 1 gram, so you aren't over the limit if someone gets an ounce. so now make sure you get 27 grams and not 28 grams

Mark October 1, 2010 7:47 am (Pacific time)

He's all for marijuana legalization, just don't call it legalization. Vote yes on Prop 19 to return the manufacture and distribution back to American entrepreneurs from criminals. Vote yes on Prop 19 to return regulation and control to government from criminals.

Campaign Finance Watch October 1, 2010 7:33 am (Pacific time)

"Proposition 19 ...will adversely impact California’s businesses.." Which businesses, Governor? Maybe these, that contributed to your 2008 campaign? (The data table is scrambled in the commenting window, but the link should work. Search for "beverage" (probably not soda pop). NAME OF CONTRIBUTOR PAYMENT TYPE CITY STATE ZIP EMPLOYER OCCUPATION AMOUNT TRANSACTION DATE FILED DATE E and J GALLO WINERY MONETARY MODESTO CA 95353 $50,000.00 4/30/2007 1/30/2008 E and J GALLO WINERY MONETARY MODESTO CA 95353-1130 $50,000.00 3/24/2008 1/30/2009 CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF WINEGRAPE GROWERS STATE PAC MONETARY SACRAMENTO CA 95814 $3,000.00 4/15/2008 1/30/2009 CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF WINEGRAPE GROWERS STATE PAC MONETARY SACRAMENTO CA 95814 $1,000.00 5/6/2008 1/30/2009 SOUTHERN WINE and SPIRITS OF AMERICA, INC. MONETARY MIAMI FL 33169 $25,000.00 5/30/2008 1/30/2009 WINE INSTITUTE CALIFORNIA PAC MONETARY SACRAMENTO CA 95814 $25,000.00 9/4/2008 2/1/2010 VALLEY WIDE BEVERAGE COMPANY MONETARY FRESNO CA 93725 $2,000.00 3/28/2008 1/30/2009 MARKSTEIN BEVERAGE COMPANY MONETARY SAN MARCOS CA 92079 $2,500.00 6/5/2008 1/30/2009 EVENTS BEVERAGE INC. DBA BEST BEVERAGE CATERING MONETARY SAN FRANCISCO CA 94124 $5,000.00 10/20/2008 2/1/2010 CORRECTIONS CORP OF AMERICA MONETARY NASHVILLE TN 37215 $5,000.00 2/27/2008 1/30/2009 MR. DAVID B. INGRAM MONETARY NASHVILLE TN 37215 DBI BEVERAGE INC. CHAIRMAN $20,000.00 6/9/2008 1/30/2009 DISTILLED SPIRITS COUNCIL MONETARY WASHINGTON DC 20005-3998 $2,500.00 2/26/2008 1/30/2009 Total $191,000.00

Anonymous October 1, 2010 7:28 am (Pacific time)

Jesus said to treat other people the way we would want to be treated. I know I wouldn’t want my kid to go to jail with the sexual predators, or my aging parents to have their house confiscated and sold by the police, if they used a little marijuana. Let’s change the world. Let’s get registered and vote. Citizens and college students can register at the state links shown below. In other states, Google your state name and the phrase, voter registration. Print off the form and mail it in (or drive it down to City Hall). And put it on your calendar for Nov 2. VOTE! (In some states, you can request an early ballot today and get it out of the way!) Five minutes. Register to vote. Change the world. Right now. Pass it on Voter info: Register: California (deadline: October 18) w w w . . (just fill out the form and mail it in). California request a ballot by mail: w w w . . Colorado (deadline: October 3) : Connecticut (deadline: 4:00 p.m. on October 19): Voter info at Or get the registration form at Massachusetts (deadline: October 13, BUT you have to request the form and get it mailed back in by October 13, so don’t delay!): Michigan (deadline: October 4): Ohio (deadline: Oct 4): Oregon (deadline: October 11): South Dakota (deadline: Oct. 18): Utah(deadlines: by mail, October 2; in-person, October 17): Vermont (deadline: Oct 19, but there are some extensions; check the site) Others: Google your state name and “voter registration.” College students: You can usually register as a citizen of either your hometown or your college residence town. Share the voter registration info through your student newspaper, twitter, etc. Everybody: Most states allow early voting and/or vote-by-mail, so once you get registered, go ahead and request a ballot (at the voter info site for your state). Save a trip to the polls and get it done the easy way.

J+ October 1, 2010 7:24 am (Pacific time)

That rascal! While long overdue, this is one hell of a political move to counter the Prop support. And saying they are 'only' doing it to eliminate due process rights is simply fantastic (not in the 'great' way) Still, I say legalize or keep it a Schedule I Felony. In OR its usually a Violation, but with a $600-1000 fine and 6 month license suspension, even if you have 0.05 g in your private residence. Not everyone goes to Doctors (including this poster). I'd rather be a jailed political prisoner than extorted for a $1000 fine for possessing something supposedly 'decriminalized.'

Ralph E. Stone October 1, 2010 6:30 am (Pacific time)

Consider, in 2006, marijuana was the largest cash crop in the United States, more valuable than corn and wheat combined. Using conservative price estimates, domestic marijuana production has a value of $35.8 billion. Based on production estimates derived from marijuana eradication efforts from 2003 to 2005, marijuana was the top cash crop in 12 states, one of the top 3 cash crops in 30 states, and one of the top 5 cash crops in 39 states. In California, for example, the domestic marijuana crop was larger than grapes, vegetables and hay combined and worth over $1 billion. The World Health Organization found that 42.4 percent of Americans had tried marijuana. As long as there is a demand for illicit drugs, there will be a supply. By legalizing marijuana, we satisfy the demand for marijuana locally, control it, tax it, and by doing so take away the "king crop" from the Mexican drug cartels. Will this happen soon? The latest polls show that 52 percent of Californians support Proposition 19.

KFF October 1, 2010 4:58 am (Pacific time)

Your opinion is the most flawed thing in this article. When compared to it Prop19 seems perfect. It proposes to tax Marijuana the same way alcohol is taxed. Employers will still be able to fire someone who is too high on the job. These are all detais though. The really important thing is personal liberty.

Media based outside of california tends to have a more honest view of prop19:

EDITOR: Whose opinion, exactly, are you referring to? Arnold's? Nothing was added to the letter he wrote.  Odd. 


ElectroPig Von FökkenGrüüven October 1, 2010 4:42 am (Pacific time)

I have two things that I wonder about: 1) Does this action not greatly decrease the need to rush Proposition 19 through? 2) Is this bill being signed specifically BECAUSE of Prop 19, or in an effort to get more people to vote against it?

Eve Lentz October 1, 2010 3:41 am (Pacific time)

way to go, Arnold!

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