Northern California Defense Lawyers at Valencia, Ippolito and Bowman say Political Disagreements About Marijuana Law Lead to Confusion for the Public

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California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom has made clear his strong disagreement with California Governor Jerry Brown about the legalization of marijuana for recreational use. This very public disagreement sends contradictory messages to the public, criminal defense attorneys at San Francisco's Valencia, Ippolito and Bowman say.

No matter how unpopular a law may be, laws regarding marijuana possession in California still have teeth.

In recent national media appearances, California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom has been very outspoken regarding his disagreement with Governor Brown. On the MSNBC talk-show "Ronan Farrow Daily" from March 18, 2014, Newsom stated that Brown's aggressive opposition to legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes is a source of extreme frustration for him. Newsom believes that if the state would follow the lead of Colorado and Washington, California could tap into a massive revenue stream and reduce the state's overcrowded prison population. This type of public disagreement between a lieutenant and a governor may not be unprecedented but it is extremely rare. Though a prominent politician like Gavin Newsom may be in support of legalization, the attorneys of Valencia, Ippolito and Bowman say that the public should not get the wrong idea.

"Even though an extremely prominent politician is expressing support for the legalization of marijuana in California does not mean that law enforcement officers or prosecutors in California will stop punishing people accused of violating current marijuana law," says San Francisco and San Jose Criminal Defense Attorney Cameron Bowman of Valencia, Ippolito and Bowman. "And, as a former Santa Clara County prosecutor, I know that drug violations are taken very seriously regardless of the political battles occurring in Sacramento or D.C. I do believe reform is coming and the war on drugs has led to tragedy and a lot of wasted resources. But the war goes on. Until massive reform is realized, marijuana law offenders will still need highly experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorneys who know the California legal system."

Though other politicians and, perhaps, some law enforcement officials and prosecutors may share Newsom's opinion, his public advocacy should not be mistaken for a change in policy. Despite his consistent advocacy and his prominence in the media, the public should be reminded: marijuana for recreational use is not legal in California. If Newsom continues his highly unusual crusade, that may eventually change. This is especially true give his regular appearances in the national media.

MSNBC is not the only place in which Newsom has been advocating pot legalization. On the May 2, 2014 episode of HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, Newsom was a guest on the roundtable talk-show and voiced his opposition to Governor Brown's stance against pot legalization. Though Newsom has created some waves by disagreeing so publicly with the governor, his opinion seems to reflect the public's position. A December 2013 poll conducted by the non-partisan agency Field Poll found that 55% of Californians support legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes.

Defense Attorney Riccardo Ippolito argues that, "Attitudes towards marijuana have clearly changed in the last several decades and they will continue to do so. Unless the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington is a complete disaster, there is little doubt that more states will legalize the drug for recreational use. But we have not gotten there yet. Mandatory minimums are still in place. Many politicians want to appear tough on crime. Police officers will enforce the law. Prosecutors will seek convictions. No matter how unpopular a law may be, laws regarding marijuana possession in California still have teeth. In the years to come, many of us may look back on the war on drugs with shock and horror for the costs incurred. But until that war ends, the attorneys at Valencia, Ippolito and Bowman will stand with anyone arrested in California on drug crime charges."

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Riccardo Ippolito
since: 05/2011
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Criminal Defense San Jose California | VIB Law Offices
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