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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ammiano Bill: Growing Pot Would No Longer Be Automatic Felony

Posted By on Wed, Feb 23, 2011 at 3:50 PM

Turns out, you might not be considered a felon
  • Turns out, you might not be considered a felon

Californians caught growing cannabis without a medical recommendation -- and indeed, some marijuana cultivators with medical recommendations -- are on their way to becoming felons. Law enforcement has no choice -- cultivation is a felony.

Although that could change under a new piece of legislation announced Wednesday morning by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco). Ammiano's bill -- AB 1017, would make marijuana cultivation a "wobbler" -- an alternate felony or misdemeanor. But there is a catch: It will be up to the district attorney to decide whether to charge someone with a felony or not.

If you can't legalize it, defelonize it
  • If you can't legalize it, defelonize it

That could be a problem if you have a DA who hates the shit out of marijuana.

Exactly how San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón feels on the matter is questionable.

When he was the Chief of Police not too long ago, he once told a crowd that marijuana is not medicine, yet it should be legal and taxed just the same. But as the newly minted District Attorney, he has brought charges against licensed medical pot growers.

Gascón staffers did not return phone calls seeking comment.

As to whether Ammiano can count on a co-sponsor in the state Senate, is unclear. Quintin Mecke, Ammiano's spokesman,  was on the telephone with "other media" when SF Weekly rang him Wednesday.

Cannabis advocates are thrilled; they view the bill as one more step toward marijuana legalization.

"I think you will find there are DAs who support this bill," said Dale Gieringer, executive director of California NORML, who shopped various versions of this bill around to lawmakers over the years. "The discretion is with the DA to do as he pleases, and that's the kind of thing DAs tend not to oppose."

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About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.


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