Bill Could Make Growing Pot a Misdemeanor in California

Growing marijuana could soon be a misdemeanor if the Legislature passes a bill sponsored State Assemblyman Tom Ammiano.

His bill would change marijuana cultivation from a mandatory felony to a so-called wobbler offense, giving district attorneys the option of charging it as a misdemeanor or a felony. The bill made it out of committee Wednesday and will now head to the Assembly floor.

California residents voted against legalizing marijuana last year, but the state has been rolling back criminal penalties for marijuana-related offenses. In October, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a law making possession of an ounce or less of marijuana an infraction, punishable by a $100 fine.

Patrick Goggin, a San Francisco lawyer who has worked on hemp legislation in Sacramento, said Ammiano’s bill has a good chance of passing through the assembly and the senate. The question will be whether Gov. Jerry Brown, who is close with the prison guards union, is willing to sign it, he said.

“It could be a difficult decision for him because of the relationship he has with the prison guards,” said Goggin. “At the same time everything’s about reducing the deficit, and this would be a deficit reduction measure because fewer people would be going to state prison.”

While felonies are punishable with state prison terms, misdemeanors can carry lighter penalties like fines or time in county jail.

The bill, AB 1017, would leave the decision of whether pot growers should be charged with felonies or misdemeanors up to local district attorneys. Under the bill, growing an acre of marijuana could be treated as a misdemeanor.

District attorneys from Humboldt and Mendocino Counties, where marijuana cultivation is one of the leading industries, support the law.

In case anyone forgot, marijuana is still illegal under federal law.

Read the bill

– Article from The Bay Citizen.



  1. Anonymous on

    when will the career bureaucrats stop putting people who have plants at home into prisons for decades, while they release violent predators.

  2. Pequots Revenge on

    You have to wonder if there is any thought process underway at all on this.

    The Supreme Court has ordered California to reduce it’s prison population by 25%, which will dump some 30,000 felons on the streets.

    We can only hope that they opt to make up the majority of those released as individuals who were convicted of victimless crimes.

    Still to be having this type of debate over whether or not plant growing should be a felony or misdemeanor is surreal, give the reality of the California penal system.