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california legislation > AB 1017

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Date of Hearing: May 11, 2011

ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS
Felipe Fuentes, Chair

AB 1017 (Ammiano) - As Introduced: February 18, 2011

Policy Committee:Public
SafetyVote: 4-3

Urgency: No State Mandated Local Program:
Yes Reimbursable: No

SUMMARY

This bill makes the cultivation of marijuana - currently a
felony, punishable by 16 months, 2 or 3 years in state prison -
an alternative felony/misdemeanor, punishable by 16 months, 2,
or 3 years in state prison, or up to one year in county jail.

FISCAL EFFECT

Unknown, potentially moderate, annual GF savings as a result of
creating a misdemeanor charging option for marijuana
cultivation. In 2009 and 2010, a total of 260 persons were
committed to state prison for cultivation. If this number was
decreased by 25%, annual state savings would be in the range of
$1.5 million. State savings would be offset to a degree by
increased local incarceration (non-state-reimbursable), though
many of these offenders would likely receive probation.

COMMENTS

Rationale . According to the author and sponsor, the Mendocino
County D.A.'s Office, this bill simply provides district
attorneys another option to bringing a felony charge for
marijuana cultivation, which allows district attorneys to adjust
charges to the magnitude of the case, rather than a
one-size-fits-all felony.

According to the author, "Marijuana cultivation statutes do not
discriminate between major cultivation operations and illegal
personal backyard gardens. In all cases, defendants with big or
small gardens, and defendants caught helping process the
marijuana, "trimmers," are charged with felony cultivation (H&S








AB 1017
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11358) and possession of marijuana for sale (H&S 11359). The
DA should be given the discretion to characterize the different
attributes of specific cultivation/processing cases and charge
the larger operations as felonious conduct and the smaller
gardens as misdemeanors.

"Making these crimes potentially wobblers would be the most
effective means for dealing with the class of marijuana
cultivation/processing cases in Mendocino County that are called
"trimmer" cases. These are the down-and-out, unemployed people
located throughout the county in need of income in a sour
economy with no prior criminal record who are arrested sitting
around a table earning money by trimming marijuana buds. To
some, they are field workers who are being used and victimized
by the people who set-up large-scale operations from a distance
and who then reap the financial benefits if the business
finishes the grow year without law enforcement detection. Given
that cultivation / processing is a straight felony, being
required to charge the trimmers with that straight felony is not
sensible.

Opponents
, including the CA District Attorneys Association and
several law enforcement entities (no letters have been received
by the committee at this time) oppose the potential penalty
reduction for cultivation.


Analysis Prepared by : Geoff Long / APPR. / (916) 319-2081