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The California Senate Thursday defeated a bill that would downgrade from a felony to a misdemeanor charges for simple possession of heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine.

Senate Bill 1506, by Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Fransisco, would have made the offense punishable by one year in county jail, as opposed to a felony punishable by three years in prison. The measure garnered only 11 votes, 10 votes short in the 40-member Senate.

Leno said the bill would save the state millions and improve the rehabilitation.prospects of convicted drug users.

"No data begins to suggest that putting felonies on these mostly young people and incarcerating them for longer periods of time in any way benefits their recovery from drug use,'' Leno said.

Other senators claimed Leno's approach minimizes the consequences of drug use and would overcrowd county jails.

"I don't understand how a decriminalization will actually reduce crime," said Sen. Ted Gaines, R-Roseville.


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