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California IN BRIEF : SAN DIEGO : Pot Felony Range Narrowed

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Seeking to ease the load on federal judges in San Diego, the U.S. attorney’s office has decided to pursue only misdemeanor charges against first-time offenders accused of dealing as much as 100 pounds of marijuana, judges and lawyers said. The policy, which has been in place for several weeks, allows an accused offender who could face felony charges to plead guilty to a misdemeanor for having up to 100 pounds of marijuana, judges and lawyers said. The arrangement replaced an informal office guideline that had put the cutoff for a plea bargain at 50 pounds. Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles and San Francisco are unlikely to take on marijuana cases involving anything less than several hundred of pounds of pot, prosecutors and defense attorneys in those two cities said. Instead, cases involving smaller amounts of marijuana are referred to state authorities.


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