As the California legislature debates how to reduce prison expenses, Cal NORML is proposing that prison sentences for marijuana be reduced by downgrading mandatory felony penalties for cultivation, sale and transport to alternative misdemeanors.

Reform supporters who live in or near the district of a key decisionmaker in the state’s prison deal, Republican State Senate leader Dennis Hollingsworth are urged to contact him. Sen. Hollingsworth’s district includes Temecula, Alpine, Murietta, and northeast San Diego County.

The Republican leadership has staunchly opposed any release of prisoners on the grounds this might endanger the public. Please tell Sen. Hollingsworth that marijuana prisoners should be released because they pose no danger to others.

Gov. Schwarzenegger is expected to propose reducing penalties for theft, so that stealing a $2,500 car would become a misdemeanor instead of a felony. Tell Sen. Hollingsworth that penalties for marijuana should likewise be reduced from felonies. After all, which is worse – stealing a car, or offering to sell some pot?

Below is a letter that we wrote to Sen. Hollingsworth. He can be contacted through his Temecula office at 951-676-1020 (FAX 951-676-1030) or in Sacramento at 916-651-4036. You can also send him a message by visiting Cal NORML’s website and sending a message to your “upper house” legislator.

Sen. Dennis Hollingsworth
State Capitol
Sacramento, CA 95814


We urge the legislature to reduce the number of marijuana offenders in state prison as it seeks to reduce prison expenses. In 2007, felony arrests for marijuana surged 19% to their highest level in twenty years. California now has fifteen times more prisoners for marijuana than in 1980, though usage is basically unchanged.

Unlike theft and most other felonies, marijuana is a non-violent, consensual offense which most Californians believe should be legalized. There is no justifiable reason why sale and cultivation of marijuana should be mandatory felonies, when assault and battery and minor theft remain misdemeanors.

We urge the legislature to reduce marijuana offenses to optional misdemeanors in order to reduce excessive prison crowding. To this end, H&SC 11358, 11359, and 11360 should all be made wobblers.

Dale Gieringer, Cal NORML

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