Growing Pot Could Become A Misdemeanor

May 22, 2011

Kenny Goldberg, KPBS Public Radio

Growing marijuana in any quantity for recreational use is a felony in California. But it could be charged as a misdemeanor if a bill moving through the state Assembly becomes law.

The measure would change marijuana growing from a mandatory felony to a so-called "wobbler" offense. That would give district attorneys the discretion to charge it as either a felony or a misdemeanor.

Joe Elford is chief counsel for the advocacy group Americans for Safe Access. He said the bill would not affect medical marijuana patients who grow pot.

"Whether they're charged with a felony or charged with a misdemeanor," Elford said, "they shouldn't end up being convicted in either case, because they are medical marijuana patients, and that is already legal under state law."

Supporters argue it's a waste of money to send people to state prison for growing marijuana. Opponents point out it's still illegal under federal law.

Possession of an ounce or less of marijuana is now an infraction in California, subject to a $100 fine

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