Legislation that would have changed simple drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor under California law was vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown on Saturday.


"This bill would allow possession of heroin or cocaine to be charged as a misdemeanor instead of a felony," the Democratic governor wrote in his veto statement.

Brown said another piece of legislation, SB 105, would allow the state to "examine in detail California's criminal justice system, including the current sentencing structure."

The legislation was authored by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco). In a statement, Leno said his bill would have allowed "counties to significantly reduce incarceration costs by giving prosecutors the flexibility to charge low-level, non-violent drug offenses as misdemeanors or felonies, also known as a wobbler."

The bill was co-sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union, Drug Policy Alliance, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

“The Governor let down the people of California, the majority of whom support going even farther than this bill would have gone,” said Lynne Lyman, California state director for the Drug Policy Alliance. “The vast majority of voters agree with the experts -- locking up drug users is stupid, unproductive, cruel and expensive."

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