Mayor-Elect Eric Garcetti Leaves Marijuana Laws Up to Voters

Los Angeles mayor-elect Eric Garcetti, set to begin his term on the first of July, gave an interesting, seemingly un-politicized answer when asked about legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. In an interview with Univision last month, Garcetti said that he's fine with California voters approving a law legalizing the casual use of marijuana. He also went on to suggest that enforcing conflicting marijuana laws does more harm than good by diverting resources and attention of law enforcement from more important matters.

Garcetti believes that resources currently tied up in enforcing small marijuana crimes can be better used fighting serious crimes. His opinion is shared by many throughout Los Angeles County, the state of California, and the nation, and he certainly has the credentials to make his point valid. While a member of the Los Angeles City County and a representative of the 13th District, Garcetti supported expansions of the LAPD and saw crime rates in his district steadily decrease by upwards of 40 percent since 2001. While his support, or perhaps lack of opposition, is welcomed, it does little for the numerous California residents still being charged with marijuana offenses.

California Marijuana Laws – A Hazy Conundrum

Marijuana and the law have an infamously messy relationship – and one that is hazy to say the least. Since becoming the first state to legalize the medicinal use of marijuana with the passing of Proposition 215 in 1996, California has been the arena for a host of conflicting laws. This is not to say that progress hasn't been made. Los Angeles voters have managed to create a thriving medical marijuana industry – which prompts the question as to why municipalities and governments aren't more willing to capitalize on pot profits – and advocacy efforts have resulted in decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana. Currently under California law, possession of less than 28.5 grams of marijuana is an infraction punishable by a relatively small fine. Possession of more than 28.5 grams, however, is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months imprisonment. It also goes without saying that marijuana is entirely illegal under federal law.

Still, as it all too often seems to be for marijuana advocates, the fuzzy lines dividing legality from illegality and state law from federal law always seem to make the marijuana battle one characterized by one step forward and two steps back. Garcetti's unique, yet promising, comment comes in the wake of LA County's recent approval of Measure D, an initiative that limits the amount of medical marijuana dispensaries to the number of dispensaries established prior to 2007. It also comes after the LA Sheriff's Department announcement of last week's Moreno Valley grow house bust that netted more than 415 plants with an estimated value of $1.5 million dollars. Under current California law, cultivation of marijuana is a felony offense punishable by up to three years imprisonment. As a federal crime, cultivation of 100 to 999 plants is a felony punishable by 5 to 40 years imprisonment, up to $500,000 in fines, or both.

A Volatile Legal Atmosphere – Retain the Representation You Need

In such an evolving, volatile legal atmosphere, San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles County residents accused of a marijuana drug crime need experienced representation. Whether you or your loved one is facing allegations as a member of the medical marijuana industry or as a medical marijuana patient, or if you stand accused of possession, sales, or cultivation, you should always take the necessary steps to protect your rights. Allow a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney from Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP to explain the charges and penalties you face, and to provide you with the seasoned representation you need to protect your rights, freedom, and future.