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marijuana legal california, santa cruz criminal lawyerBy John W. Thornton

Marijuana is now legal in California, but subject to a lot of rules. For the ordinary fan of weed, or someone who has loved ones or friends who partake, this is a large step towards keeping them being labeled a criminal for doing something that endangers a bag of Cheetos more than the user, the public, or the neighbor’s dog. 

But what about those folks who have marijuana-related convictions on their records? Well, a lot can be done for many of those folks. Were you caught growing years ago and are considered a felon? Did you sell a bag of bud and get caught? Did you get pulled over in a car with a few pounds and suffered a felony for transportation? One aspect of this new law allows such felons to change those felonies into misdemeanors. One treatise going around summarizes this aspect of the law as follows:

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California lawmakers are considering a proposal that would allow police officers to use a special gadget that would help detect if a person is driving under the influence of drugs.

California lawmakers are considering allowing officers to use a special gadget that would allow them to detect the presence of drugs in a person’s system. The gadget would be similar to a breathalyzer that detects alcohol in a person’s system, but would be based on testing of saliva swabs. A new California bill Assembly Bill 1356, if passed, would allow law enforcement officers in California to use a specially - designed gadget to detect the presence of drugs in a motorist’s system.

The gadget is called the DDS 2 MOBILE TEST SYSTEM, and is a lightweight device that comes with a full color screen. The device is readable in all kinds of visibility conditions, and is capable of storing 10,000 results. Results can be printed out at the end of the testing.

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A California state senator from San Francisco is seeking to give prosecutors the option to charge some drug crimes as a misdemeanor level offense. The proposal would not only reduce potential exposure to time behind bars for possession of drugs for personal use, but would also keep a felony off of a person's record, which can make it difficult for the person to later find a job.

Senator Mark Leno's proposal would not modify California's marijuana laws, as possession of a small amount of marijuana is already considered an infraction under state law. State law gives authorities the option to charge possession of methamphetamine for personal use as either a misdemeanor or felony offense. The new proposal seeks to expand that kind of discretion in cases involving allegations of possessing of small amounts of heroin, cocaine and other so-called "hard drugs."

Obviously, there is some opposition to modifying California's harsh drug possession laws. State Senator Jim Nielson believes that people who may possess small amounts of drugs may commit other crimes to later buy the drugs. He apparently wants to keep possession of small amounts of drugs as a felony level offense to punish suspects for speculative offenses that he believes may possibly happen at some later time.

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For the second time in roughly a-year-and-a-half, a California medical marijuana patient has been charged with marijuana cultivation charges after police raids in two separate counties.

In September 2011, Butte County officials conducted a raid on a home in rural Concow, California. Police reportedly seized marijuana plants during that raid. Authorities say that 39 plants were found. The residents of the home were arrested on suspicion of marijuana cultivation charges, despite California's medical marijuana laws.

Authorities brought felony drug charges accusing the residents of possession of marijuana and possession with intent to sell pot. Child endangerment and abuse charges were also filed based upon the presence of children and the medical marijuana patient's consumption of marijuana while breastfeeding, according to authorities.

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Law enforcement arrived at the residence after police suspected a Fairfield couple of marijuana crimes. Police in Vacaville, California claim that law enforcement saw activity that officers believe may have been some kind of marijuana transaction. The married couple drove away after the alleged pot deal. However, authorities say that they obtained a search warrant. Officers apparently found the married couple in Modesto January 31 and searched their car.

Authorities say that 50 pounds of processed marijuana was discovered, along with a handgun. After the car search, officials went to Fairfield to raid the couple's home. Officers say that they found more pot at the residence, along with other items that were seized.

Following the raid in Fairfield, Vacaville police expanded their probe and obtained warrants to search two more homes in Vallejo. It is not clear from the media what led authorities to suspect contraband may have been present in the Vallejo homes. Law enforcement says indoor marijuana grows were discovered at the Vallejo locations. No arrests were made at those homes.

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