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Deadline This Week For State Initiative to Decriminalize Marijuana

Audio

Aired 4/19/09

A measure that would decriminalize marijuana in California faces a deadline later this week. Supporters need to turn in more than 433,000 signatures to qualify the initiative for the November ballot. KPBS reporter Kenny Goldberg has more.

The initiative would decriminalize the possession and cultivation of marijuana or hemp. And it would allow for the immediate release from prison of all people convicted of non-violent marijuana-related crimes.

Keith Stroup is the founder of the marijuana advocacy group NORML . He says people who use marijuana shouldn’t be put in jail.

Stroup : They’re people just like us. They're average citizens who generally work hard, and pay taxes, and live a good life, but they prefer to smoke marijuana when they relax in the evening instead of drinking alcohol. And it's time we stopped treating them like criminals.

Supporters say the measure would save California more than $150 million a year in law enforcement costs.

Kenny Goldberg, KPBS News.

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