Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed legislation Saturday that that would have given local prosecutors discretion when deciding whether a person charged with possessing a small amount of illegal drugs should be charged with a felony or a misdemeanor.
Under Senate Bill 649, by Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, possession of cocaine, heroin and other specified drugs would have been downgraded to the status of methamphetamine, Ecstasy or hashish, "wobblers" treated as felonies or misdemeanors depending on the circumstances.
Brown said in his veto message that state officials dealing with prison crowding in California are preparing "to examine in detail California's criminal justice system, including the current sentencing structure."
The Democratic governor said that "will be the appropriate time to evaluate our existing drug laws."
Supporters of the Leno bill had said it would reduce recidivism by eliminating some employment barriers resulting from a felony record. The California District Attorneys Association opposed the measure.
PHOTO CREDIT: A police officers conducts a traffic stop in Lincoln on Wednesday, September 29, 2010. The Sacramento Bee/Randall Benton