California Senate Rejects Drug Defelonization Bill

SACRAMENTO, June 1 - The California Senate roundly rejected Mark Leno's bill SB 1506 to reduce penalties for simple possession of narcotics and dangerous drugs from a felony to a misdemeanor, by a vote of 11-24. The bill would also have eliminated felony penalties for hashish/concentrated cannabis.

"With California's prisons overflowing with violent criminals, it's a sorry state of affairs when our lawmakers won't adopt commonsense crime-reduction measures," remarked Cal NORML director Dale Gieringer. "The legislature should be ashamed of kowtowing to law enforcement interests with a vested interest in wasting taxpayer dollars on imprisoning victimless drug users."

Republican Sen. Doug LaMalfa of Butte County remarked, "With bills like this, I can see Amsterdam from the front porch of the Capitol."

However, Californians might well envy Amsterdam's superior record with regards to crime, safety, and drug abuse.

According to a Senate Public Safety Committee committee analysis:
Thirteen states and the federal government punish simple drug possession as a misdemeanor. These jurisdictions have lower crime rates than felony states and higher rates of people entering treatment. In states that charge drug possession as a misdemeanor, the average violent crime rate was 376.4 per 100,000 people. Among felony states, the average violent crime rate was 397.5. Misdemeanor states had an average property crime rate of 2,913.2 per 100,000.

Felony states had a higher average property crime rate - 3,071.9 per 100,000...
A 2011 poll by Lake Research Partners found that 72% of Californians favored reducing the penalty for drug possession to a misdemeanor.

See the Senate vote on SB 1506.