Pot Possession In Calif Now Like Speeding Ticket

"A new law makes possessing up to an ounce of marijuana in California no more serious than getting a speeding ticket — a development both sides battling over a marijuana legalization ballot measure hope to exploit with the vote just a month away. The law signed late Thursday by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger reduces possession of an ounce or less of pot from a misdemeanor to an infraction with a maximum punishment of a $100 fine. Even as a misdemeanor, possession of up to an ounce was still punishable only by a $100 fine and no jail time. But offenders also faced arrest, a possible court appearance and a criminal record. Schwarzenegger reiterated his opposition to the ballot measure known as Proposition 19 when he signed Senate Bill 1449 but said the new law would save the state courts money. ""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,"" the governor said in a statement. Other opponents of Proposition 19 said the new law helped their cause by negating the argument that legalizing pot would let police focus on more dangerous crimes, said Roger Salazar, a spokesman for the No on Prop 19 group."