Brown signs bill that changes California trafficking law

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The measure redefines 'transporting' of narcotics, which could ease penalties for those caught with drugs for personal use.

The measure redefines ‘transporting’ of narcotics, which could ease penalties for those caught with drugs for personal use.

Gov. Jerry Brown approved a change Thursday to the state’s drug trafficking law that could ease penalties for those caught with drugs meant for personal use.

The measure, by Assemblyman Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), redefines “transporting” narcotics to explicitly mean transportation for sale. Prosecutors will have to prove that a person caught with drugs meant to sell them in order to charge them with trafficking, which is a felony.

“Too many people are getting caught up in the prison system with nothing more than a small amount of drugs for personal use,” Bradford said in a statement. “The broad interpretation of existing law wastes resources going after users instead of dealers.”

The American Civil Liberties Union was among the measure’s supporters. The bill, AB 721, was opposed by some law enforcement groups, including the California Police Chiefs Assn.

The governor also signed a new law that was born out of a scandal involving the U.S Justice Department snooping into the phone records of reporters at the Associated Press.

The legislation by Sen. Ted W. Lieu (D-Torrance) closes a loophole in California’s Shield Law, which now requires law enforcement to provide five days’ notice to news organizations when they subpoena information from those organizations.

SB 558 requires the same notice to news organizations when their records are sought from third-party vendors, including phone companies and Internet service providers.

In a recent investigation into security leaks, the Justice Department secured phone records from a phone company and other third-parties showing the numbers dialed by AP reporters in New York; Hartford, Conn.; and Washington, D.C.

“The government has shown on some occasions a disregard for freedom of the press,” Lieu said, adding that approval of the new law “makes it clear: California will protect the 1st Amendment.”

Brown also signed a bill giving the California State Athletic Commission oversight of full-contact martial arts contests for minors.

Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla (D-Concord), who authored AB 1186, said children as young as 5 years old have participated in Pankration tournaments, a form of mixed martial arts.

“I felt we needed to have some safety standards that would be statewide,” Bonilla said.

Courtesy of Los Angeles Times

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