Dear Laura, Why are the people in San Francisco trying to make drug possession as light as a traffic ticket?
Dear Reader, Please know that the possession of marijuana, less than an ounce, is already an infraction in San Francisco and throughout the state of California, since January 1, 2011. There are many reasons for this development. But let us begin with a few facts:
- The CA Penal Code categorizes criminal offenses in three domains: infractions, misdemeanors and felonys.
- Drug possession charges, may seem only a minor misdemeanor offense, but being convicted of one can cause major problems in the life of the accused.
- Thirteen other states have reduced personal drug possession of herion, methamphetamine and cocaine from a felony to a misdemeanor.
- The prioritization of court time, police response time, adjudication time and prison space, must give way to more serious offenders, primarily due to the fiscal deficit.
- Decriminalizing drug use, not legalizing it, will help stop the cycle of drug-related incarceration and offer treatment as an alternative.
- Sales, transportation and cultivation of a controlled substance remains a felony.
On April 17, 2012, Senate Bill 1506, introduced by Senator Mark Leno of San Francisco, passed the Senate Public Safety Committee by a 4 to 2 vote. This bill proposes to reduce the drug charge of possession of personal amounts of herion, methamphetamine and cocaine from a felony to a misdemeanor, sending users to drug treatment instead of prison.
Before becoming law, the bill needs to pass the full Senate and Assembly. To express an opinion to your Legislature, the state Senate or Assembly, is one of our greatest freedoms, during this Memorial Day week, exercise your First Amendment Right and write to your representative.
This column is for the delivery of alcohol and drug information. Responding to your questions and comments. Remember, if you have a question, many people have that same question. Please ask. Laura