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California Drug De-Felonization Bill Dies

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #737)

A bill that would have decreased the penalties for simple drug possession from felonies to misdemeanors died last Thursday in the California Senate. The proposed measure, Senate Bill 1506, was defeated on a vote of 24-11.

The bill was introduced by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), and would have reduced the charges for possession of small amounts of heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine. Leno argued that the measure would save the state money and result in more people getting drug treatment so they could reenter society.

"No data begins to suggest that putting felonies on these mostly young people and incarcerating them for longer periods of time in any way benefits their recovery from drug use," Leno told his colleagues before the vote.

But his Senate colleagues, including some Democrats, sided with law enforcement lobbyists, who opposed the bill.

"I don't understand how decriminalization will actually reduce crime in California," said Sen. Ted Gaines (R-Roseville).

Actually, by nearly any measure -- violent crimes, property crimes, murders -- the number of serious criminal offenses in California has dropped by about half in the past 20 years.

"With bills like this I can see Amsterdam from the capitol front porch," said Sen. Doug La Malfa (R-Richvale), who voted against the measure.

No word yet on whether Leno will try again next year.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


"I don't understand how decriminalization will actually reduce crime in California,"

What a load of deceptive b/s. The snakes of prohibition abuse and manipulate language every time they speak. First off, reducing the classification of drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor does not constitute "de-criminalization" - a misdemeanor is still a crime. A jailable offense at that (often leading to months of confinement in a cage). And whether or not reducing the penalties from drug offenses will reduce crime is irrelavant to the question of whether or not it should be done - he is deliberately muddying the debate with deceptive language and irrelevant issues. 

Sat, 06/02/2012 - 11:14pm Permalink
Paul Pot (not verified)

Please prepare to reintroduce your bill again after the Nov election Senator Leno.

It will be an entirely different ball game by then.

These prejudiced buffoons are going to disappear from the scene.

War is Over! 2012

Sun, 06/03/2012 - 3:19am Permalink

Sen. LaMalfa doesn't understand Amsterdam.  Drug use there is tolerated, but not drug trafficking or crime.  When drug dealers are caught in the Netherlands they face serious consequences.  I think Sen. LaMalfa's comment shows that he would rather use emotion than actually think about the de-felonization bill.

Sun, 06/03/2012 - 11:41am Permalink
Giordano (not verified)

I see Holland, I see France—on the horizon, circa 1789.  Continuing persecutions and profiteering directed against and at the expense of American citizens can have but one consequence.  Disenfranchisement leading to anarchy.

Sen. Doug La Malfa (R-Richvale), who voted against the measure, will have serious problems in the future convincing anyone he isn’t an idiot.  And a tougher time getting re-elected.


Tue, 06/05/2012 - 2:07am Permalink
Hal Sear (not verified)

has La Malfa ever been to Amsterdam? Probably not. 

What is there in Amsterdam that he didn't like?  Seriously, what's not to like? 

Fri, 06/08/2012 - 2:40am Permalink
John Thomas (not verified)

Public attitudes - however misguided - must be taken into consideration. Trying to end/diminish the prohibition of hard drugs is like attacking the heavily fortified wall instead of going through the half-open gate.

The public is just now becoming ready to re-legalize marijuana. That's where we should focus our efforts. FBI statistics show 80 percent of all "illegal" drug sales is of marijuana. Once we end marijuana prohibition, that ends 80 percent of the "problem," and the people will lose their propaganda-induced hysteria.

Only then will they be able to look at the more complex problem of the hard drugs in a rational way. 

Fri, 06/08/2012 - 3:16am Permalink

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