California Has Taken Major Step Toward Reducing Criminalization of Drug Use  E-mail
Addiction Treatment Industry Newswire

02/24/2015 -ATIN - California has essentially taken a major step toward reducing the criminalization around the possession of drugs - and we're not talking just pot here - and yet that fact has gotten basically zero attention anywhere outside the state, and I've heard only one guy mention it to me from the addiction treatment biz, overjoyed as he was since the thing is retroactive so his felony possession charge is gonna go away and become a misdemeanor. This is, of course, HUGE news in general, but gargantuan when it comes to the addiction treatment industry and yet has barely been mentioned since it became the law of the land in California after the most recent set of elections November last.

California's Unique Direct Participatory Democracy

This is all due to the fact that a direct ballot initiative to voters called Proposition 47 - they are constantly having these ballot initiatives in the state and in my generation they became famous with the passage of something called Proposition 13, which was a revolt against high property taxes that captured the attention and imagination of the entire nation - was passed by voters by a massive almost 60 percent margin last November. Prop 47 reduced sentences for a variety of non-violent offenses for those without violence in their past convictions. Tucked away in Prop 47 was the reduction to misdemeanor level people caught with drugs for personal use, and as we said retroactive. Prop 47 is especially relevant to California, which spends more than $60K a year to send someone to prison, whose prison system has for decades been under one federal order or another to reduce its prison population, conditions often violating "cruel and unusual" elements of the federal constitution, and whose prison budget is bigger than the entire budgets of perhaps about 15 percent to 20 percent of the states in our still great union.

Change Brings Fear and Push Back

We will not get into it here right now at Treatment Magazine to venture an opinion about whether Prop 47 is a good or a bad thing - like most change though, for sure, it's good for some people and bad for others - except to remind our readers that a felony conviction for most individuals is a consignment to a very, very secondary class of existence for the rest of most people's lives with that felony on their record.

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Ted Jackson


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