California is getting closer to legalizing marijuana. A month before voters make the final decision, the state has approved a bill that will put possession of small amounts of pot on par with speeding on the freeway. Holding up to one ounce is punishable by a $100 fine. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has come out against legalizing the drug, argued that he signed the bill into law primarily as a budget measure. “In this time of drastic budget cuts, prosecutors, defense attorneys, law enforcement and the courts cannot afford to expend limited resources prosecuting a crime that carries the same punishment as a traffic ticket,” Schwarzenegger said. Analysts say the change will be especially significant for black men, who were being arrested for possession at a far higher rate than white men. “It’s important because it ends an epidemic of race-based targeting of misdemeanor marijuana arrests in California,” one advocate said.
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