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Heroin, Meth Possession Now Misdemeanors in California

November 06, 2014  | 

Los Angeles County Public Defender Ron Brown walked into a Pomona court Wednesday and saw first-hand the impact of California's Proposition 47 — the voter-approved initiative that reduces penalties for drug possession and other nonviolent crimes.

Brown's office had deliberately postponed sentencing for a defendant facing more than a year behind bars for possessing heroin and methamphetamine to the day after Tuesday's election, waiting to see what voters would do.

The gambit worked. The man was sentenced and released from custody with no further jail time, the Los Angeles Times reports.

"They were felonies yesterday. They're misdemeanors today," Brown said. "This is the law now."

Now that the citizens of California have voted to reduce punishments, police agencies, defense attorneys, prosecutors, and even some advocates are scrambling to figure out exactly how it is going to work.

The greatest effect, experts said, would be in drug possession cases, noting that California is now the first state in the nation to downgrade those cases from felonies to misdemeanors. Thousands of felons are now eligible for immediate release from prisons and jails.


Comments (38)

Displaying 1 - 38 of 38

EODK9Trainer @ 11/6/2014 3:06 PM

Only in CA is this possible.

Charlie @ 11/6/2014 4:57 PM

For all of us in California it sucks. We fought it but our liberal Attorney General titled the initiative, "The Safe Schools Act". The proponents say they will use the savings to make schools safer through extra counseling and more school funding. Letting hundreds of thousands of felons no longer be felons, and be on the streets doesn't exactly maker kids safer. Of course the uninformed voter thought that was a great idea, because who doesn't want safe schools? What a sham.

RetiredChief @ 11/6/2014 5:00 PM

I spent my entire full time career as a LEO in CA including 15 years as a police chief. The state, which I no longer reside in, is a hopeless, unsalvageable mess. That is exactly what happens when such a high percentage of residents are illegals, when less than 50% of the population financially supports the entire state, when you elect ultra liberals to state, county and municipal offices, and when almost every large and medium size police agency is headed by (notice I didn't say led by because there are few real leaders) those who put political correctness ahead of the oath of office. It was once a great state--it is now a cesspool.

RetiredAZ @ 11/6/2014 5:21 PM

Inprisonment for self-destructive behavior is not economical. If the drug possession has any violence attached then jail them. If all drugs were legalized and heavily taxed, think how much revenue would be generated. It would put the Cartel's out of business. We will never put a dent in the use of drugs by placing users in prison.

Corrupt politicians @ 11/6/2014 6:06 PM

These insane incompetent laws are due to weak sell out politicians and weak police chiefs and sheriffs who so loving take photos and are in commercials in bed with politicians selling out their ofcrs deps and the American citizen. Ca is anti gun to punish good people not criminals, pro druggies, and pro political corruption. Sickens me.

LegAdv @ 11/6/2014 6:41 PM

Lots of questions to be answered on this one. For example, how will the defendants with serious or violent felony priors be handled? Is this another way of watering down 'three strikes'? And let's not forget that this has NO effect on the federal Controlled Substances Act, for sure. I am SO glad to be out of CA! Let someone else's tax dollars pay for this crap! I'm done!

Top @ 11/6/2014 6:56 PM

You couldn't pay me enough to live in that communist state. Everyone who thinks drug possession is not a serious crime is deluded. How do those idiots think they came to possess the drugs? They're either buying it or selling it... both of which are still, I hope, at least this week, still felonies. And the shyster lawyers are dancing a jig because tons of criminals will be hitting the streets, reoffending, and ending up back in court, and jail, with the effect of padding their bank accounts even more... talk about a neverending cycle. Unless of course all the bleeding heart liberals are going to start paying for rehab for all the poor, victimized addicts. Get ready for that one Californian's... I'm sure is coming, and you'll all be paying for it. It's really a crying shame. ..I think it's high time we just gave California back to Mexico.... it's practically there already, might as well finish the job. Then all this crap will be Mexico's problem.

Bob @ 11/6/2014 7:02 PM

Possession of Cocaine is also a Misd. Today's newspaper says about 10,000 people in Prison might get there sentences reduced if they were convicted of certain crimes. I bet crime will go up. Good thing I carry.

bomac @ 11/7/2014 3:42 AM

@Top - Actually, adults buying, selling or possessing drugs, in and of itself, should not be a crime, let alone a serious crime. The drug that causes the most problems is alcohol, but it shouldn't be illegal. Freedom comes with problems. If people commit harmful acts while on drugs (or trying to get the money to buy them), jail them for the acts, not for having and doing the drug. The for profit prison system loves to lock people up for profit, even if they aren't hurting others. They'd love nothing more than to make alcohol illegal and get paid for housing alcoholics too. The US has more people in prison that China and India combined. That's 2.4 billion people vs 320 million. Once inside, these people who were harmful, learn to be harmful and get in gangs while inside, so when they got out, then they really are menaces to society. What we're doing isn't working. More of the same is what is delusional. Portugal has greatly reduced drug abuse by decriminalizing possession.

Tom Ret @ 11/7/2014 6:54 AM

China probably has less people in prison because they execute them!
Retired Chief hit the nail on the head as far as California goes. Washington
state had the same idea about taxing marijuana but isn't turning out as
advertised probably because the drug dealers sell it for less than the state.
It is the liberal way of thinking that drug users and sellers are harmless to the general public.

S.S. @ 11/7/2014 8:16 AM

There's nothing I can say that the above Officers haven't said. Sad, sad, sad. This is ridiculous, outrageous and unbelieveable. WoW!!! I definately wouldn't go to Cali! PATHETIC. WAY TO GO CITY LEADERS!!!!

S.S. @ 11/7/2014 8:21 AM

@ bomac your post is that of a libertard and you probably reside in Oregon, or Cali., and most importantly you are not a cop!

Trinka Porrata @ 11/7/2014 12:36 PM

Well, as usual the attorneys will get rich from it. And this isn't Portugal!!! What "works" somewhere else wouldn't work in the pathetic drug seeking country. And many of those countries with liberal drug laws aren't so happy with it. People always cite how it works elsewhere. Last thing I did for LAPD was sit down with committees from four of the most liberal drug law countries. They were sending committees around the world trying to figure out how to get out of their mess. But, once the barn door is open, it's hard to shut it again. And anyone who thinks drug use/possession is no big deal should go talk to those HURT by those people, their spouses, children, neighbors and on and on. Clueless.

kevCopAz @ 11/7/2014 1:14 PM

Im soooo glad I don't live (and no longer visit) CA. They WILL go further down the tube then they already are ($$$ in Debt) and will not come back. I just hope we in the other states wont have to bail them out!.
Can you just imagine the unintended consequences of this? ALL Felons no longer felons if its drug related? How soon will PD & Fire have to hire these drug users since they wont have a Felony record. How long will it be before the legalize even heroin and Meth for anyone? I thought those years ago in panic about de criminalization of pot saying it would have a domino effect were paranoid, well I was wrong everything they said is coming true! There will be countless more lives lost, lives distorted by drugs. The up side is less cost for prisons, the down side all the criminals are out on the street doing more crime! Do they really think that heroin users, meth heads are normal citizens who don't commit crimes to supply their habit??? fhat tricking fools. F… all CA.

EODK9Trainer @ 11/7/2014 3:16 PM

S.S. Really with the name calling? I may not agree with the poster either but I believe he was at least civil in his posting.

TheRookie @ 11/7/2014 6:44 PM

From reading don't know how many have really had to deal with heroin addicts or meth heads on a daily basis. No matter what it is a tweaker is one dangerous unpredictable nut job. They'll rob, rape, turn-out, burg, or anything else to get that next high. And it'll never be the one they initially received. A lifetime of "Chasing the Dragon" takes its toll. California is one deplorable, disgusting, repulsive state where I have family. I tell them (not trying to sound to mean) the best thing for that state would be for a major earthquake to snap it off & let it float over to Japan.
And of course the state leader is, Jerry Brown the Town Clown...!!!

Ima Leprechaun @ 11/10/2014 2:51 AM

Officers don't make the law they just enforce it.

Fed LEO @ 11/10/2014 7:17 AM

Reducing heroin and meth to misdemeanors, medical MJ, added with 1,000,000 new illegals with valid drivers licenses, PLUS Gov. Moon-Beam releasing 40K+ convicted felons (to reduce prison over-crowding), the State is lost.

Bill @ 11/17/2014 9:10 AM

So, does this mean California is going to have a bunch of hopped up junkies legally able to own guns? Sheesh.

dough @ 12/5/2014 10:56 AM

Hey no worries they only have ten round mags and bullet buttons your good if your number 11....

Ed @ 1/6/2015 8:50 AM

That is f'ed up. But not really that surprising. They'll they what they deserve. Bet the gov officials are laughing their a** off rolling in dough yelling it worked! What a shit state it is now. And Im 100% for pot but that shit shoulnt be giving even to your worst enemy. My fellow free Americans wake the hell up you

josh @ 1/6/2015 5:38 PM

Anyone NOT in favor of prop 47 is an idiot! All you dolts that think a petty possession should be a felony are in favor of tax money being pissed away! Shame on you morons, get a clue.

Douglas C. @ 3/24/2015 2:17 AM

BOB.... You're right, I'm sooooo happy that you carry.
NOT !!!

jacob @ 4/25/2015 12:47 AM

think god they have passed prop 47 i got a possession charge when i was 18 im now 34 and it has cost me and my family that i got years later on in life i went to prison for a few pills and cant get a good paying job because i had a few pills on me when i got pulled over it should not be a felony to put something to feel good in your own body most people who use drugs dont become addicts just like most people who drink dont become alcoholics some do but most dont and locking someone up in a cage just for taking a drug is inhumane cruel and wrong and the thousands of lives thats been destroyed because of unjust drug laws sickens me thank god for prop 47

JAMES MCARDLE @ 6/1/2015 2:39 AM

GENESIS 3:16 THE TRUTH IS THAT THE DAY THEY STARTED MAKING DRUGS ILLEGAL IS THE DAY THIS ONCE A FREE COUNTRY STARTED GOING COMMUNISTIC. ITS NOT THE DRUG, ITS THE PEOPLE USING THEM. GOD MADE DRUGS FOR A REASON AND PEOPLE LIKE MYSELF NEED THEM BECAUSE OUR BODIES ARE FALLING APART. UNFORTUNATELY I HAVE TO KEEP WORKING TO PAY MY BILLS SO DO YOU REALLY THINK THAT YOUR JUSTIFIED IN THINKING THAT ITS OK TO TAKE AWAY MY DRUGS THAT I NEED. WHAT IF I TOOK YOUR CAR, I MEAN FACE IT,,1.3 MILLION PEOPLE DIE EVERY YEAR IN CAR ACCIDENTS. WHY NOT MAKE CARS ILLEGAL. AND HOW ABOUT GUNS, NEXT YOU'LL TAKE AWAY GUNS, PRETTY MUCH WHATEVER SUITS YOUR FANCY RIGHT? I WISH I DIDN'T NEED DRUGS LIKE I DO BUT I DO. AND JUST BECAUSE YOU DON'T, DOESN'T MEAN YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO CONTROL WHAT I PUT IN MY BODY. I GUARANTEE THAT SOMEDAY YOUR GONNA BE IN PAIN. WHAT DO YOU PLAN TO DO THAN, WHEN YOUR IN PAIN AND STILL HAVE TO LABOR EVERYDAY TO PAY FOR YOUR EXPENSIVE PAIN PILLS BECAUSE PEOPLE LIKE YOURSELF R CONTROL FREAKS

mark @ 8/15/2015 4:02 PM

the only reason heroin and meth and other drugs like that are illegal is because the US government he is not making money off of them in my opinion. just say they did legalize heroin they would make a killing . not saying that the smartest move but they would make a lot of money from it. and I'm sure there would be a lot less deaths from it because not knowing what the purity of the drugs you're buying is

leon @ 10/15/2015 3:27 AM

i feel it should be legal the cia did it

Mary B @ 12/21/2015 11:04 PM

I think this is the way the government can rid our over populated country. Instead of building more prisons I think they need to build more state controlled in house rehab clinics where instead of doing years in jail let the addicts do years in a in house rehab and get clean detox them. If that don't work increase their rehab. And under 3 strikes law let them go to prison for the rest of their sentences. They made the worst mistake by changing the law on Meth. California is over ran with Meth zombies which increases the crime rate. The Federal government needs to over rule and make harsher penalties on bad drugs like Meth. California is in crises and it's getting worse by each day. I live in Calif Lord Help Us.

Mary B @ 12/21/2015 11:12 PM

Lord help us in California. Meth zombies everywhere. The federal government needs to over rule prop 47. Build more in house state controlled Rehab treatment centers and send the addicts court ordered there instead a slap on the wrist and released the next day or same day from jail. I think people should protest against that law. It ruins lives of everyone. Not to mention the crime rate is sky rocketing because many are stealing to support their Meth habits

Kathy S @ 5/1/2016 12:21 AM

Meth destroys the frontal lobe of the brain. It turns people into zombies. In California towns at night have walking zombies. Heroine addicts both committing crimes to support their addictions. They are mentally impaired. Crime rates are rising. Public safety is at high risk. It's a mistomeanor heroine ectesy( known as the date rape drug) Heroine. What the hell was the governor thinking when he compared these dangerous drugs to marijuana. Every officer I brought the subject to are so against letting people get a slap on the wrist from the courts. They get a ticket and are released with in hours just to feed their addiction by means of robbing, stealing, home invasions. Running around the streets victimizing law biding citizens. The chemicals that Meth is made I'd drains, mothballs, butane to name a few are destroying the users and destroying family's. The courts do nothing. Go on line and do Califorinan's a favor sign the petition to repeal prop 47. PLEASE

Kathy. S. @ 5/1/2016 12:31 AM

Go to web site repeal Prop 47. Please let's put it back on th ballot. Also email or write your district supervisor in your county and tell him or her your concerns. It is so out of hand Many Californians are leaving before they become victimized by meth addicts who are gravely mentally disabled because of the continuous use of Meth. Wow what are they going to legalize next??? PCP?.. God Help Us All.

James D @ 5/1/2016 1:23 AM

Meth and heroin is a bad addictive drug. I hope that Donald Trump builds that fence. Obama giving social security cards, drivers licenses, letting Mexican illegals under the age of 30 mostly drug runners into this country, free college intuition, free medi-cal was wrong. He opened up our borders and it is a direct threat to our security. Most American students have to get loans and have to pay their intuition back which takes years and years. The elder Bracaderos had to go through naturalization process before becoming a U.S. Citizen. How fair is that to them and other ethnic nationalities? It's not right. For the past 60 years the Feds did not do enough to reinforce our boarders. And now the drugs in the U.S. A broken system. I think England and Canada have the right answer when it comes to Government pays for their citizens medical expenses. Why can't our country follow their system? It works for their citizens. Instead of Obama care or be fined.

Morris W @ 5/1/2016 8:31 PM

For years poverty, crime, it seems the U.S. Government has turned a blind eye. Yet we give billions of dollars to other countries to help them instead of helping our own country with all the poverty, security. We close down most of our Army bases on the West Coast while North Korea has been making nuclear missiles capable to reach the West Coastal Cities. We need to reopen rebuild and protect the West Coast. Protect our West Coast cities and our people from being attacked. Also win the war on all illegal drugs flooding our West Coast. Prop 47 is opening a big can of worms making it almost legal to destroy California. But it helps our schools. Our schools charge to ride the bus. Most materials parents have to buy. It's a failed system. Not like it was 40 years ago. Teachers assign work and the kids bring their work home and the parents have to teach the assignments. Why have teachers? A janitor works 1 day a week at the schools. 40 years ago a janitor worked 5 days a week

Morris D @ 5/1/2016 8:45 PM

So germs are everywhere at schools. Don't think by passing prop 47 is benefiting our schools. Most schools got rid of PE in elementary schools, librarians, music classes and if you take a lab class students have to pay for the class. Another broken system. What happened to America? We are over taxed, pay for special school uniforms, people have to pay for sending their elementary children to be bussed to school. And the school food is garbage. Hamburger pizza? Really! Now they teach migrant ED in elementary school. Teaching Mexican kids in Spanish. Hello this is America. Teach them in English. This is not Mexico. America I hope Donald Trump puts a end to this failure after failure. If you can't speak English. Learn it or go back to your country that speaks it.

Miss @ 9/14/2016 6:22 PM

All the negative opinions whenbibknow one thing is . No matter where I am or what happens in my life and my reality I only have myself to blame.

Miss @ 9/14/2016 6:24 PM

Really zombies??? And what have you been taking ??? Sounds like a bad batch or some good acid.

Great @ 2/8/2017 10:23 PM

Yeah. Maybe it's time to wake up and realize that low level drug users aren't hurting anyone but themselves by using. If we were really a free country we probably wouldn't be ruining people's lives over choosing what they want to do to their OWN BODIES. It's none of anyone else's business what substances someone puts in THEIR body. All a felony does to someone is makes it nearly impossible to get a job therefore they turn to a life of crime because they can't survive, that helps no one. The MAXIMUM for using drugs should be rehab. Not jail.

ron @ 2/12/2017 7:11 PM

Big mistake but what do you expect for California? Now all the junkies have to support their habit. I know the idea was to get them out of our crowded jails but I don't know this is the right way to do it. Now people won't have to worry about having a felony on their record. They can just say its only a misdemeanor so why not? Idiots in Sacramento.

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