Marijuana decriminalized in California

Tony The Bot
Marijuana decriminalized in California
Posted via Canadian Content

Up to 1 ounce, or 28g now legal to possess in California

Many years after Canada tried to decriminalize possession of small amounts of cannabis, California has also made that very move as Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Senate Bill 1449 into law. The move makes the possession of less than one ounce (28 grams) an infraction much like a parking ticket. Previously, such an offense would have been considered a misdemeanor which required a court appearance. As an infraction, it would only cost the offender a $100 fine.

Conversely, several laws and court rulings here (in Canada) have made the law somewhat unclear, yet Police have seriously changed their tune on the subject since pot laws received widespread media attention around the turn of the millennium.

While the full legalization of pot by the state of California is opposed by the Governator, it will appear on the November ballot as Prop 19.

The possession of more than one ounce or roughly 30 grams will remain a crime and hashish does fall in this category.

According to Schwarzenegger, he wrote "n 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."

In 2009, there 61,164 arrests for simple possession of pot, so the decriminalization is projected to save the bankrupt state some seriously needed cash. According to some sources, the price of street pot is around $275, around 20% - 25% higher than the average street price in major Canadian cities.

Supporters of the bill praise the Governor for finally shifting the focus from chasing pot smokers to getting tough on real crime. What's more is the state can finally save a buck, a buck the cash-strapped state could really use. The main question which comes to mind, is if a US state can push this law through, what ever stopped Canada from finally clarifying the situation in the Great White North?

Original Article:
Here are some facts concerning the situation in Holland:

”Cannabis coffee shops" are not only restricted to the Capital of Holland, Amsterdam. They can be found in more than 50 cities and towns across the country. At present, only the retail sale of five grams is tolerated, so production remains criminalized. The mayors of a majority of the cities with coffeeshops have long urged the national government to also decriminalize the supply side.

A poll taken earlier this year indicated that some 50% of the Dutch population thinks cannabis should be fully legalized while only 25% wanted a complete ban. Even though 62% of the voters said they had never taken cannabis. An earlier poll also indicated 80% opposing coffee shop closures.

It is true that the number of coffee shops has fallen from its peak of around 2,500 throughout the country to around 700 now. The problems, if any, concern mostly “drug tourists” and are largely confined to cities and small towns near the borders with Germany and Belgium. These problems, mostly involve traffic jams, and are the result of cannabis prohibition in neighboring countries. “Public nuisance problems” with the coffee shops are minimal when compared with bars, as is demonstrated by the rarity of calls for the police for problems at coffee shops.

While it is true that lifetime and “past-month” use rates did increase back in the seventies and eighties, the critics shamefully fail to report that there were comparable and larger increases in cannabis use in most, if not all, neighboring countries which continued complete prohibition.

According to the World Health Organization only 19.8 percent of the Dutch have used marijuana, less than half the U.S. figure.
In Holland 9.7% of young adults (aged 15–24) consume soft drugs once a month, comparable to the level in Italy (10.9%) and Germany (9.9%) and less than in the UK (15.8%) and Spain (16.4%). Few transcend to becoming problem drug users (0.44%), well below the average (0.52%) of the compared countries.

The WHO survey of 17 countries finds that the United States has the highest usage rates for nearly all illegal substances.

In the U.S. 42.4 percent admitted having used marijuana. The only other nation that came close was New Zealand, another bastion of get-tough policies, at 41.9 percent. No one else was even close. The results for cocaine use were similar, with the U.S. again leading the world by a large margin.

Even more striking is what the researchers found when they asked young adults when they had started using marijuana. Again, the U.S. led the world, with 20.2 percent trying marijuana by age 15. No other country was even close, and in Holland, just 7 percent used marijuana by 15 -- roughly one-third of the U.S. figure.

In 1998, the US Drug Czar General Barry McCaffrey claimed that the U.S. had less than half the murder rate of the Netherlands. “That’s drugs,” he explained. The Dutch Central Bureau for Statistics immediately issued a special press release explaining that the actual Dutch murder rate is 1.8 per 100,000 people, or less than one-quarter the U.S. murder rate.

Here’s a very recent article by a psychiatrist from Amsterdam, exposing "Drug Czar misinformation"

Now let's look at a comparative analysis of the levels of cannabis use in two cities: Amsterdam and San Francisco, which was published in the American Journal of Public Health May 2004,

The San Francisco prevalence survey showed that 39.2% of the population had used cannabis. This is 3 times the prevalence found in the Amsterdam sample

Source: Craig Reinarman, Peter D.A. Cohen and Hendrien L. Kaal, "The Limited Relevance of Drug Policy"

Moreover, 51% of people who had smoked cannabis in San Francisco reported that they were offered heroin, cocaine or amphetamine the last time they purchased cannabis. In contrast, only 15% of Amsterdam residents who had ingested marijuana reported the same conditions. Prohibition is the ‘Gateway Policy’ that forces cannabis seekers to buy from criminals who gladly expose them to harder drugs.

The indicators of death, disease and corruption are even much better in the Netherlands than in Sweden for instance, a country praised by UNODC for its “successful” drug policy."

Here's Antonio Maria Costa doing his level best to avoid discussing the success of Dutch drug policy:


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