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No Jail for an Ounce of Pot

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People of California: Holding a few, small nuggets of marijuana will no longer land you in jail after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed SB 1449 into law today.

But there is still a fine of up to $100.

While ballot measure Proposition 19, which would all-out legalize recreational marijuana use, has attracted all the weed-related news leading up to the November elections, SB 1449 has been quietly pushed along by State Senator Mark Leno of San Francisco. His bill makes possessing an ounce or less of cannabis an infraction, not a misdemeanor. The argument was that the crush of marijuana-related cases was jamming up court dockets.

By signing the bill today, Schwarzenegger was seen as offering a compromise because of his opposition to Prop. 19.

"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," said Schwarzenegger. "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."

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