As early as this week, Gov. Jerry Brown will sign or veto SB 649, the first major sentencing reform bill ever to pass out of the California state legislature and which would allow personal drug possession to be charged as a misdemeanor, but will also give the prosecuting attorney the discretion to charge drug possession as a felony.

This is already an option in California for possession of methamphetamine for personal use. 13 other states, the District of Columbia, and the federal government already treat drug possession as a misdemeanor, and haven’t experienced any increase in crime rates.

Creating an option to charge low-level drug possession as a misdemeanor rather than a felony will allow counties to reduce needless and costly incarceration in response to drug possession, freeing up money for programs proven to reduce recidivism, including drug treatment.

Please help see this legislation through by contacting Gov. Jerry Brown today expressing your support for this sensible policy today.


Existing law provides that the unlawful possession of certain controlled substances, including, among others, opiates, opium, opium derivatives, mescaline, peyote, tetrahydrocannabinols, and cocaine base, is a felony punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for 16 months, or 2 or 3 years. Existing law imposes, as a condition of probation for a felony conviction of these provisions, a fine of $1,000 or community supervision for a first offense, and a fine of $2,000 or community supervision for a second or subsequent offense.

This bill would make the unlawful possession of any of those substances punishable as either a felony punishable in county jail or by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year. The bill would also delete the required probation conditions.

Full Bill Text Here:

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