Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently signed a new California marijuana bill into law. The bill slightly decriminalizes the possession of marijuana. It doesn’t make it legal, by any stretch, but it does change the nature of the offense of possession of certain amounts. Under the new law, anyone caught with a certain amount of marijuana without a prescription will pay a small fine. Formerly, the penalty was a fine plus a court appearance.
The Schwarzenegger marijuana reform
Governor Schwarzenegger signed a recent bill, titled SB 1449. The bill, SB 1449, reduces the penalty for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana. Currently, it is a misdemeanor that requires a court appearance, and up to a $100 fine. However, as of Jan. 1, 2011, the new penalty will be only a fine, according to the Los Angeles Times. There is also another bill, Proposition 19, which would make marijuana use for recreational purposes completely legal. Gov. Schwarzenegger opposes Prop 19, but he signed SB 1449 for practical reasons. The idea is to reduce burdens on law enforcement and courts. California has some of the most relaxed medical marijuana laws in the United States.
The bill is insufficient
The arguments concerning marijuana use and its relative “evils” are flawed. Marijuana is no more a gateway drug than tobacco or alcohol. Anyone that is determined to use drugs will use them anyway, regardless of whether that person first uses marijuana. Furthermore, the history behind the criminalization of marijuana makes the illegality of the drug philosophically suspect to begin with. One of the reasons Nixon launched the “Drug War” was to give law enforcement greater powers to crack down on political dissenters.
Benefits are few
History teaches us that people will find a way to do what they want, regardless of the law. Prohibition of alcohol in the early 20th century only enriched organized crime. Prohibition of marijuana does the same. It opens the door to a police state. Anyone who lived with the K.G.B or the Stasi looking over their shoulder can attest to the abhorrence of that experience. No one benefits from marijuana being illegal.
Los Angeles Times: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/california-politics/2010/10/schwarzenegger-signs-bill-reducing-offense-for-marijuana-possession.html
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