BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                      



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          |SENATE RULES COMMITTEE            |                  SB 1506|
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                                 THIRD READING


          Bill No:  SB 1506
          Author:   Leno (D)
          Amended:  As introduced
          Vote:     21

           
           SENATE PUBLIC SAFETY COMMITTEE  :  4-2, 4/17/12
          AYES:  Hancock, Calderon, Liu, Steinberg
          NOES:  Anderson, Harman
          NO VOTE RECORDED:  Price


           SUBJECT  :    Drug possession for personal use

           SOURCE  :     American Civil Liberties Union
                      California Attorneys for Criminal Justice
                      California State Conference of the NAACP
                      Drug Policy Alliance
                      Ella Baker Center for Human Rights
                      William C. Velasquez Institute


           DIGEST  :    This bill provides that simple possession of a 
          controlled substance shall be a misdemeanor.

           ANALYSIS  :    Existing law classifies controlled substances 
          in five schedules, generally according to their danger and 
          potential for abuse.  (Health and Safety Code (HSC)  
          11054-11058)

          Existing law provides penalties for sale, possession for 
          sale or distribution, sale or distribution, and 
          manufacturing of controlled substances.  (HSC  
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          11350-11401)

          Existing law, with numerous exceptions, includes the 
          following penalties for drug offenses:
           
          1. Heroin, cocaine and other specified drugs (section 
             references are to the HSC):
                 11350  possession - felony - prison term of 16 
               months, two years 
                          or three years;
                 11351  possession for sale or distribution - felony 
               - prison for 
                          two, three or four years;
                 11351.5possession of cocaine base (crack) for sale 
               - felony - 
                          prison for three, four, five years; and
                 11352  sale or distribution - felony - three, six 
               or nine years.

          2. Methamphetamine and other specified drugs:
                 11377  possession - alternate felony-misdemeanor;
                 11378  possession for sale or distribution - 
               felony; and
                 11379  sale or distribution - felony - two, three 
               or four years.

          3. Marijuana:
                 11357  possession of under an ounce is an 
               infraction;
                 11357  possession of hashish - alternate 
               felony-misdemeanor;
                 11358  cultivation or processing - felony;
                 11359  possession for sale - felony; and
                 11360  sale or distribution - felony - two, three 
               or four years.

          Existing law provides that being under the influence of a 
          specified controlled substance is a misdemeanor.  (HSC  
          11550)

          Existing law, Proposition 36 (November 2000 election), the 
          Substance Abuse Treatment and Crime Prevention Act of 2000 
          (SACPA), requires non-violent drug possession offenders to 
          be offered drug treatment on probation, which shall not 

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          include incarceration as a condition of probation.  (Penal 
          Code  1210.1 and 3063.1)

          Existing law provides that non-violent drug possession 
          offenses include:

          1. Unlawful use, possession for personal use, or 
             transportation for personal use of a controlled 
             substance.

          2. Being under the influence of a controlled substance.  
             (HSC  11550)

          3. SACPA eligibility is not affected by the classification 
             of the underlying drug possession offense as a felony or 
             misdemeanor.  The controlling factor is that the drug is 
             a controlled substance.  (Penal Code  1210)

          Existing law requires persons who have been convicted of 
          one of a list of numerous drug and drug-related crimes, 
          including possession, possession for sale and sale of 
          various controlled substances to register with the local 
          police chief or sheriff, as specified.  The registration 
          requirement does not apply to a person convicted of 
          misdemeanor possession of methamphetamine (or a specified 
          drug such as psilocybin mushrooms).  (HSC  11590)

          This bill provides that simple possession of a controlled 
          substance is a misdemeanor.  

          This bill makes the registration provisions in HSC  11590 
          consistent by providing in each relevant provision that a 
          person convicted of the misdemeanor of possession of 
          methamphetamine (or other specified drugs) is not required 
          to register with law enforcement.

           FISCAL EFFECT  :    Appropriation:  No   Fiscal Com.:  No   
          Local:  No

           SUPPORT  :   (Verified  5/2/12)

          American Civil Liberties Union (co-source)
          California Attorneys for Criminal Justice (co-source)
          California State Conference of the NAACP (co-source)

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          Drug Policy Alliance (co-source)
          Ella Baker Center for Human Rights (co-source)
          William C. Velasquez Institute (co-source)
          A New Way of Life Reentry Project
          Amity Foundation
          A.W.A.R.E (Always working toward Advancing Recovery 
          Environments)
          Beacon House Association of San Pedro
          Bi-Valley Medical Clinic, Inc.
          Blacks in Law Enforcement of America
          Broken No More
          Bristo Anesthesia Service
          California Association of Alcohol and Drug Program 
          Executives
          California Church Impact
          California Coalition for Women Prisoners
          California Drug Counseling, Inc.
          California Hepatitis Alliance
          California Immigrant Policy Center
          California Latina for Reproductive Justice
          California LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens)
          California Opioid Maintenance Providers
          California Public Defenders Association
          California Society of Addiction Medicine
          Californians United for a Responsible Budget
          Canoga Park/West Hills Work Source Center
          Center for Living and Learning
          Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice
          Centerpoint Inc.
          Church in Ocean Park
          Communities in Schools
          Community Coalition
          Counseling Partners
          Cri-Help, Inc.
          Dolores Huerta Foundation
          Dolores Street Community Services
          East Bay Community Law Center
          Essence of Light
          Facts Education Fund
          Footlights Publishing, Inc.
          Forward Together
          Friends Committee on Legislation of California
          Further the Work, LLC
          Healthcare Services, Inc.

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          Homeless Health Care Los Angeles
          Homies Unidos
          Justice Now
          La Raza Roundtable de California 
          Law Enforcement Against Prohibition
          Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights
          Leadership through Empowerment, Action, and Dialogue Inc.
          Legal Services for Children
          Legal Services for Prisoners with Children
          Lincoln Memorial Congregational United Church of Christ
          Los Angeles Community Action Network
          National Association for Working Women
          National Association of Social Workers, California Chapter 
            Women's Council
          National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence of the San 
          Fernando Valley
          National Employment Law Project
          National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
          Parents for Addiction Treatment and Healing
          Peace Over Violence
          People in Progress, Inc.
          Primary Purpose Substance Free Living
          Progress House
          Progressive Christians Uniting
          Project Inform
          Rubicon Programs
          RYSE Youth Center
          San Fernando Recovery Center
          San Fernando Valley Veterans Employment Committee
          San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon
          SLO Bangers Syringe Exchange
          Students for Sensible Drug Policy, 20 independent chapters
          Tarzana Treatment Centers
          TGI Justice Project
          The Greenlining Institute
          The Salvation Army Hope Harbor
          Time for Change Foundation
          Trans-Latina Coalition
          VIP Mentors
          Walden House
          West Coast Drug and Alcohol Education Program
          Youth Justice Coalition

           OPPOSITION  :    (Verified  5/1/12)

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          Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs
          Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs
          California District Attorneys Association
          California Fraternal Order of Police
          California Narcotics Officers' Association
          California Police Chiefs Association
          California State Sheriffs' Association
          Long Beach Police Officers Association
          Los Angeles County Professional Peace Officers Association
          Los Angeles Police Protective League
          Riverside Sheriffs Association
          Sacramento Deputy Sheriffs Association
          Santa Ana Police Officers Association

           ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT  :    According to the author:

            California annually spends hundreds of millions of 
            taxpayer dollars to incarcerate drug possession 
            defendants - an irresponsible use of scarce resources 
            that exacerbates jail overcrowding.  For decades, 
            commissions and bipartisan panels have recommended 
            against lengthy incarceration for these low-level 
            offenders so as to conserve resources and more 
            effectively secure public safety.  Under the Public 
            Safety Realignment Act, which keeps most simple drug 
            possession defendants at the county level, the need to 
            prioritize public safety resources and maximize local 
            flexibility is urgently needed. 

            SB 1506 will provide for up to one year of incarceration 
            in county jail, and a period of probation not to exceed 
            five years (in practice, three years of probation is 
            common).  Participation in drug treatment and/or other 
            programs may be ordered as a condition of probation.  
            Statutory eligibility for drug courts, Prop 36, and other 
            diversion programs will not be affected.  SB 1506 will 
            provide counties flexibility to fund these programs, 
            after years of devastating cuts.

           ARGUMENTS IN OPPOSITION  :    The California District 
          Attorneys Association argues:
           
             Undoubtedly, drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and 

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            methamphetamine are highly addictive.  Most would concede 
            that drug addictions destroy lives and families, and are 
            damaging to society.  Minimizing the consequences of 
            addictive and destructive behavior does not make it less 
            addictive or destructive.

            Reducing the penalty for possession of these dangerous 
            controlled substances to a misdemeanor will remove much 
            of the incentive to address addiction through 
            participation in such programs as deferred entry of 
            judgment, Proposition 36 treatment, or residential 
            treatment.  Helpful enforcement of such "drug terms" of 
            probation such as search clauses and chemical testing as 
            a condition of probation will suffer.

            Finally, this bill will undoubtedly result in more 
            offenders being sentenced to county jail.  Counties are 
            already dealing with the overwhelming impacts of last 
            year's criminal justice realignment and this bill will 
            exacerbate the overcrowding problems that plague our 
            county jails."


          RJG:mw  5/2/12   Senate Floor Analyses 

                         SUPPORT/OPPOSITION:  SEE ABOVE

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