DRCNetDrug Reform Coordination Network


California Legislature to Hear Marijuana Bills April 16

YES to Medical MJ Bills: AB 2933, AB 2120
NO to Increased Sentences: AB 2764, AB 2227, AB 2786
Contact the Assembly Public Safety Committee NOW!

On April 16th, California Assembly Public Safety Committee will be debating marijuana legislation at a time when the number of marijuana offenders in California state prisons has hit its highest level in history.

According to the Department of Corrections, as of December 31, 1995, 1572 prisoners were serving time for marijuana felonies, up 18% from one year previously. This is over twice the number of prisoners as in the early 1970s, before possession was decriminalized.

In addition, the population of all drug prisoners has reached a new all-time high of 35,350, of which a record 12,579, or 10% of the total prison population, are incarcerated for simple possession of illegal drugs (i.e., not with intent to sell).

Among the bills being heard by the Public Safety Committee, the following would make matters worse by increasing penalties for marijuana and other drug offenses:

AB 2764 by Charles Poochigian (R- Fresno), would increase penalties for marijuana trafficking by 3 years and upwards for offenses involving one kilogram or more. (Note that 1 kilo is just one-third the amount the U.S. government supplies every year to approved medical marijuana glaucoma patient Robert Randall.)

AB 2227 by Larry Bowler (R-Elk Grove/Sacramento), would require that anyone receiving probation for drug possession or use serve 8 hours/week of community service for one year in programs to be established by the county sheriff. N.B: Since sheriffs do not currently run community service programs, this would require the expenditure of additional local funds on the part of cash-strapped counties.

AB 2786 by Grace Napolitano (D-Norwalk) would prevent judges from granting probation to drug offenders who have any prior felony drug conviction. This bill is sponsored by the LA County DA's office, which apparently feels that too many second-time drug offenders are escaping prison.

On the positive side, the committee will hear two bills to reduce penalties for medical marijuana:

AB 2933, by Assemblyman John Vasconcellos is essentially the same as last year's bill to legalize possession and personal use cultivation of marijuana with a physician's prescription.

AB 2120, by Assemblyman John Burton, is a watered-down alternative, which would make personal use cultivation of marijuana for medical purposes a misdemeanor instead of a felony.

California DRCNet members and other supporters are urged to speak up now. Communications should be addressed to your own assemblymember and to Paula Boland, Chair, Public Safety Committee, State Capitol, Sacramento 95814. You can call your assemblymember (or find out who your assemblymember is) through the Capitol operator: 916-657-9900. You can write to any assemblymember at the following address:

Letters and phone calls are especially needed from constituents of the following committee members (local addresses included):

For further information, contact Marnie Regen,
[email protected],
(408) 944-0924,
fax to same number; or
Dale Gieringer,
[email protected],
(415) 563-5858.

If you like what you see here and want to get these bulletins by e-mail, please fill out our quick signup form at http://www.drcnet.org/signup.html.

Click to sign up now

Return to Rapid-Response-Team Chronological Listing

Drug Reform Coordination Network