On New Year's Day a new California law went into effect that sharply
reduces the penalties for possession of marijuana. Now anyone caught
with less than an ounce of grass will be given only a traffic
ticket-type citation and a possible fine of up to $100.The law demands a peculiar kind of precision from police officers,
namely a certainty about how much grass makes an ounce. A Los Angeles
importer says he has sold several thousand pocket-size scales from Hong
Kong to various police departments. In Los Angeles, the scales will be
standard patrol-car equipment. San Francisco police, however, are
relying on the less scientific rule that an ounce of marijuana is the
amount that can be cupped in both hands without spilling any.
Sacramento sheriff's deputies judge an ounce by how much will fit into
a plastic sandwich bag, a traditional dope-sellers' measure. Many
marijuana users are taking no chances. “Head shops” report brisk sales
'of the pocket scales to users who want to weigh in just
below the one-ounce limit.