California State Senate Rejects Lower Penalty For Drug Possession

Associated Press

June 1, 2012

State senators have rejected a bid to make California the 14th state to end felony penalties for those convicted of possessing small amounts of drugs for personal use.

Sen. Mark Leno, a Democrat from San Francisco, proposed reducing drug possession to a misdemeanor.

Those convicted would have served up to a year in county jail instead of the three-year maximum sentence under current law.

Leno argued that SB1506 would save counties and the state millions of dollars annually and help reduce jail crowding.

Just 11 Democratic senators supported the bill Thursday. Twenty-four senators of both political parties were opposed, and several other Democrats did not cast votes.

Sen. Ted Gaines, a Republican from Roseville, noted that law enforcement groups are opposed. He calls drug possession a gateway to other crimes.