A bill that has passed in the State Assembly would classify simple drug possession as a “wobbler” offense. That means prosecutors could choose to treat it as either a misdemeanor or a felony.
Democratic Assemblywoman Toni Atkins said 13 other states already treat simple possession as a misdemeanor.
“And what have we seen in those misdemeanor states?” she asked. “Lower rates of drug use among minors and adults. Higher rates of entry into drug treatment. Lower rates of violent crime. Lower rates of property crime on the average.”
But Republican Assemblyman Don Wagner said the bill minimizes the consequences of drug addiction and weakens existing laws.
“If it becomes law, we have effectively sent a terrible message to drug users, to their families and to those around them that the state doesn’t care about the possession of such drugs,” he said.
The bill passed with the minimum 41 votes needed. It now heads back to the Senate for a final vote.