Ammiano bill would make growing pot a ‘wobbler’

California Assembly Public Safety Committee Chairman Tom Ammiano today said he introduced a bill last Friday that would change marijuana cultivation from a mandatory felony penalty to an alternate felony or misdemeanor known as a “wobbler”

David EysterOne size doesn’t fit all when it comes to growing pot, according to Mendocino County District Attorney David Eyster, who sponsored Ammiano’s AB 1017.

“The proposed change affords local District Attorneys the charging discretion to determine, for example, that a home gardener with a few non-medical marijuana plants will not be prosecuted at the same level as a profiteer operating a major marijuana plantation,” Eyster said in Ammiano’s news release. “It makes no sense that unlawful possession of less than one ounce of marijuana is an infraction, that possession of more than an ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor, that possession of methamphetamines may be charged as a misdemeanor, but that growing any amount of marijuana must be charged as a straight felony punishable by prison.”

Tom AmmianoAmmiano, D-San Francisco, said the change “is long overdue and is simply common sense. Allowing marijuana cultivation to be a misdemeanor will save the state money, allow for more cost-effective prosecution and reflects the views of most Californians. I applaud DA Eyster for his leadership on trying to create a rational public policy for marijuana in California.”

Stephen Gutwillig, the Drug Policy Alliance’s California director, said the state’s budget crisis requires reconsidering its penal policies. “Sending nonviolent marijuana offenders to state prison is a particular waste of resources in a state that lowered marijuana possession penalties and seriously considered ending marijuana prohibition outright last year. That law enforcement figures like District Attorney Eyster are supporting Assemblymember Ammiano’s sensible new legislation shows how quickly the tide is turning against our costly, ineffective, and punitive marijuana policies.”

California District Attorneys Association CEO W. Scott Thorpe said the CDAA “is reviewing the bill and has not taken a position.” I’ve not yet heard back from the California Narcotic Officers’ Association or the California Police Chiefs Association, but I’d bet that once they’ve reviewed the bill, they’ll not favor it.

UPDATE @ 11:15 P.M.: California Police Chiefs Association lobbyist John Lovell says the group hasn’t yet taken a position on AB 1017, but “my guess is that, given the critical level of problems created by cartel cultivation in California, we would oppose this bill.”

UPDATE @ 4:42 P.M. THURSDAY: California Narcotic Officers’ Association Executive Director Joe Stewart said today his group “is obviously concerned about the bill. As always, CNOA is always vigilant in looking into this and other bills that effect the legalization and decriminalization of marijuana.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • David LaTour

    Growing pot should be decriminalized, but this is a step in the right direction.

  • Elwood

    Those who think pot growing is so benign should visit southern Trinity County. There aggregate growers have cut down the trees, cut in new dirt roads, set up encampments with no sewerage or waste disposal, illegally tapped streams for their water supply and threatened their neighbors with guns and dogs.

    But it’s for medicine for sick people, you know!

  • publius

    Don’t we have 26 billion dollar deficit to worry about? Tommy A. and Marky Mark should stop wasting time on Pot and Cigarettes and address real problems. Public employee pensions and benefits are strangling our state and budget. While other fiscally strapped states like Wisconsin and New Jersey are addressing thier problems responsibly, we here are worried about legalizing pot and smoking at work.

    I need someone to pass the doobie. Maybe a couple of tokes will help me understand Ca. politics.

  • Truthclubber

    Once again we hear the scraping of Hellwad’s knuckles on the ground, reminding us of exactly how bassackward he is with regard to a subject even Barry Goldwater could see the merits of — the decriminalization of marijuana.

    That it is currently “illegal” to grow it as an economic crop, right up there with tobacco and alcohol, subject to the usual regulations and taxation, is PRECISELY why so much destructive activity occurs when it is grown in this “illegal” way.

    Does Hellwad not have enough Aricept in his medicine cabinet to remember the massive and ruthless violence that occured on the streets of this country during Prohibition, when alcohol was illegal but got made in bathtubs all over the place?

    Does Hellwad not have the brainpan to compute the ungodly amount of money we are pissing away in prison lockups of people convicted of selling a nickel bag of weed, and how that money could get diverted into shoring up other budget holes, or better yet, RETURNED to us taxpayers?

    This is precisely why the Republican Party is DOA out here in California, even as it thrives elsewhere in the US (like the cheese state, for example) — thanks to social neanderthals like Hellwad who love to fascisticly scream NOOOOOOOOOOO! to all of the following, socially accepted norms, here in the Golden State:

    a) Terminating a pregnancy within the first three months safely and effectively, regardless of how the impregnation occured
    b) Smoking a substance that is widely used elsewhere in the world, and has been proven to have usual properties for medical purposes when used appropriately
    c) Having sexual relations with a consenting adult of either gender as long as appropriate transmittable disease protections have been taken

  • Elwood

    Re: #4

    Please tell us Toothsucker what your insane rant has to do with criminal growers ruining the environment and threatening their neighbors with guns and dogs.

    But you are right about one thing. I do have difficulty remembering prohibition because it ended long before I was born.

    Your insane rants make me wonder what drugs YOU are ingesting.

  • Truthclubber

    (ed. note: Sorry, ‘clubber – this is appearing late because it got caught in our automatic spam filter; sometimes that happens to oddly-formatted things like this. I love it, however, that you seem to have tried to post it precisely at 4:20 p.m., a coincidence, I’m sure.)

    Let me spell it out so even Y-O-U can understand it, H-E-L-L-W-A-D:


    As for your “memory thing”, it was Santayana who said “Those who cannot remember the past should be sent back there” or something like that.

    I suspect given your wonderfully racist, sexist, and generally “holier-than-thou”, neanderthal viewpoints and your abysmal reading skills (how else could you not know how viciously violent Chicago was during Prohibition?) you would fit right in.

  • Truthclubber

    This is a test to see if I am being censored based purely on the number of replies I post. If you see this, then I am wrong to think that I am being censored.

  • Truthclubber

    Since you saw the previous post, you should know that the CC Times is selectively “blocking” posts on a basis the means of which I do not as yet know, or are able to ascertain — but I tried to post an earlier comment to this thread with no inflammatory content and IT WAS NOT POSTED — so be aware that “not all who seek to post are seen…”

  • Elwood

    Re: #8

       /ˌpærəˈnɔɪə/ Show Spelled[par-uh-noi-uh] Show IPA
    Psychiatry . a mental disorder characterized by systematized delusions and the projection of personal conflicts, which are ascribed to the supposed hostility of others, sometimes progressing to disturbances of consciousness and aggressive acts believed to be performed in self-defense or as a mission.
    baseless or excessive suspicion of the motives of others.

    Help is available for your problem.

  • Let’s Be Honest

    Apparently Lobbyist Lovell overlooked DA Eyster’s comment that this commonsense change in the law will have no adverse impact on the ability of law enforcement to continue to arrest and prosecute those at a felony level who are involved in cartel operations in California. Rather, this modest change in the law seeks only to give discretion to the local DA to be able to decide that which I believe the majority of Californians believe and support – that a 20-year old kid with a couple of plants in the backyard should not be prosecuted and saddled with the same felony used to rightfully prosecute the cartels. Bravo Mr. Ammiano and Mr. Eyster!

  • Truthclubber

    be aware that “not all who seek to post are seen…” — unless they scream about that censoring in such a way as to force the nand of the hoster — as happened here.

    Although I posted at ~ 4:20 pm, it did not get shown until well after 5 hours later, when I alerted ya’all about their practices — and I refuse to believe that “my format got caught in their spam filter” line any more than I believe that Saddam Hussein ever had weapons of mass destruction — good try, but you (CC Times) lie.

    As for #9, here’s my reply, from Wikipedia itself:

    The word fascist (aka Hellwad) is sometimes used to denigrate people, institutions, or groups that would not describe themselves as ideologically fascist, and that may not fall within the formal definition of the word. As a political epithet, the word fascist has been applied, in an anti-authoritarian sense, mainly to a broad range of people and groups on the extreme right, but also to groups on the far left and at points in between. It has also been applied to people of many religious faiths, particularly fundamentalist groups. The individual, institution, or group(s) called fascist often find the use of the term in this way to be highly offensive and inappropriate.

    In this sense, the word fascist is intended to mean “oppressive”, “intolerant”, “chauvinist”, “genocidal”, “dictatorial”, “racist”, or “aggressive” – all concepts that are allegedly inspired by the ideology of actual fascism, and pervasive through fascist states. One might accuse an inconveniently placed police roadblock as being a “fascist tactic” for its perceived oppresion or interloping, or an overly authoritarian teacher as being “a total fascist”. Terms like Nazi and Hitlerite, are often used in similar contexts.

  • Elwood

    Re: #11

    Help is available for your problem. See #9

    Ceasing all drug and alcohol use would also probably help.

  • Elwood

    P.S. Everyone knows what a wonderful always reliable source Wikipedia is.

  • Josh Richman

    Truthclubber, I don’t much care about your views on this or other issues – you’re welcome to them whatever they are, and to your credit, you often make cogent arguments to support them – but I take exception when you call me a liar.

    Your post got caught in our spam filter, pure and simple. I don’t troll the filter every hour on the hour, so I didn’t notice it until you called my attention to it. If you can’t accept that, I’d chalk it up to an inflated sense of self-importance. Trust me: If I wanted to censor you, nobody would see your posts, but that’s not how we roll.

    And – after all the comments you’ve posted here over the years without a glitch – if you still feel like the dialogue here is fixed, feel free to get lost.

  • Lisa Vorderbrueggen

    Amen, Josh. Like Josh, I often retag comments that are trapped in the spam filter. We don’t have any control over the mysterious filter settings, which appear to be primarily intended to block those pesky and shady entrepreneurial endeavors. Seriously, if you think we have time to hunt through the comments, find offense and hit delete, you are flat-out wrong.