Californians want folks who get pinched for a small amount of hard drugs like cocaine to face only misdemeanor charges, not felony ones.
In fact the Drug Police Alliance's statewide survey (PDF) found that nearly three-quarters of us (72 percent) want marijuana-like misdemeanor penalties for possession of cocaine, heroin and small amounts of other drugs.
That would mean if cops found a few bumps in your pocket you'd see a
ticket [corrected]: misdemeanor charge, which would rarely result in jail time these days, particularly on first offense instead of a jail cell (just as if you had a few joints on you).
States the Drug Policy Alliance:
This poll offers important proof that most Californians do not approve of lengthy prison sentences for drug possession for personal use. At a time when California is slashing funding for education and health care while billions of dollars in incarceration costs remain untouched, this poll finds that Californians believe that too many people are incarcerated for too long.
Of the 800 people surveyed by Lake Research Partners last month, 56 percent believed that too many Californians are in jail; even 66 percent of Republicans favor misdemeanors for small amounts of hard drugs; 41 percent said they'd favor a candidate who supports the misdemeanor move for hard drugs.
Allen Hopper, police practices director with the ACLU of Northern California:
Support for reducing drug possession penalties crosses all the partisan, regional, and demographic lines that normally divide California voters. Solid majorities of Republicans, Democrats and Independents from every corner of the state overwhelmingly agree that it's time for a new approach. We need to stop wasting precious tax dollars on unnecessary, expensive jail and prison sentences.
The DPA notes that those caught with cocaine or heroin -- even small amounts -- could see 16 months to 3 years in prison.
Added: We're also told that a plurality of respondents (40 percent) believe possession of a small amount of hard drugs like coke should only get a ticket (e.g. be cited for an infraction).