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Lawmakers decline to reduce penalties for meth, heroin possession

May 31, 2012 |  3:21 pm


State lawmakers on Thursday rejected a proposal to reduce the charge for simple possession of heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine from a felony to a misdemeanor.

Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) said his bill would save money and result in more people getting successful drug treatment so they can re-enter 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 measure went down on an 11-24 vote, with several Democrats in opposition.

Sen. Ted Gaines (R-Roseville) said SB 1506  would threaten public safety, agreeing with the California State Sheriffs’ Assn. that drug use leads to other problems including property crimes.

“I don’t understand how decriminalization will actually reduce crime in California,’’ Gaines said.

Sen. Doug La Malfa (R-Richvale) added: “With bills like this I can see Amsterdam from the Capitol front porch.’’


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--Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

Photo: Members of the U.S. Coast Guard cutter "Resolute" offload some of the 168 bales of seized cocaine Thursday in Florida. Credit: AP Photo/Chris O'Meara.