With the recent election in the rearview mirror, residents in California have had some time to digest the results. One of the most hotly contested items on the ballot here in Los Angeles and in other American cities was a proposition to reduce drug possession to simple misdemeanors. California passed proposition 47, known as The Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act, by a 55 percent vote, which going forward means possessing drugs like marijuana for personal use will only result in misdemeanor charges.
This is good news for those who use judicious amounts of the substance for personal reasons, but the act is still the subject of a great deal of talk even after the vote. Those who supported the measure say reducing drug possession penalties will lead to less crowded jail space that could be better used to incarcerate those who commit violent and serious crimes. Opponents say this is an ineffective way to free jail cells and won't induce drug offenders to abstain from future criminal activity.
Reducing drug possession charges and freeing up jail space is just one part of proposition 47. If the act functions as planned, it will free up about $200 million that once went into jailing those charged with drug possession and some low-level property crimes. Authorities plan to use these savings to address drug rehabilitation and mental health issues and for programs to keep kids in school. The proposition will also enable inmates serving time for the included crimes to ask for resentencing.
If you or someone you know has recently been arrested for drug possession or is currently serving time for possessing simple drugs in California, you could benefit greatly from speaking with an attorney about your case.
Source: The San Diego Union-Tribune, "Calif cuts penalties for small drug crimes" Kristina Davis, Nov. 04, 2014