Here’s what almost just happened: California State Assembly Bill 849, legislation that would have created a new criminal charge for hash oil extractors, was one governor’s signature away from being passed into law. Seeing as the bill was unanimously passed by the assembly, it would not have been a bad bet that Governor Jerry Brown was going to ratify the law.
But Governor Brown decided instead to veto the law last Saturday, along with eight other bills proposing new criminal charges to be added to the California penal code, according to the East Bay Express. The decision does not seem to have been motivated by a love on the part of Brown for fire extracts, but instead by a love on the part of brown of not adding to the state’s very serious prison overpopulation problem.
Assembly Bill 849, if passed, would have added a new penalty to extractors whose blasting resulted in the injury a person. Which is actually a pretty sensible law, given that blasting is a victimless crime unless you’re an idiot who blows other people up. Making laws against harmful blasting could only serve to motivate the extracting community to smarten up a little.
According to the Sacramento Bee, explosions from volatile extraction now cause 10 percent of severe burns reported to Northern California’s UC Davis Medical Center and Shriners Hospitals for Children, more than house fires and car accidents put together.
But given that the state has already added penalties for BHO extraction this year, the number of other charges that a blaster can receive (eg. arson, reckless endangerment or manufacturing a controlled substance with a chemical), and California’s extreme increase in prison population, the governor was unwilling to put his John Hancock on the new law.
A statement addressed to the state assembly from Governor Brown last week read:
“Each of these bills creates a new crime ? [sic] usually by finding a novel way to characterize and criminalize conduct that is already proscribed. This multiplication and particularization of criminal behavior creates increasing complexity without commensurate benefit.
Over the last several decades, California’s criminal code has grown to more than 5,000 separate provisions, covering almost every conceivable form of human misbehavior. During the same period, our jail and prison populations have exploded.
Before we keep going down this road, I think we should pause and reflect on how our system of criminal justice could be made more human, more just and more cost-effective.”