SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – San Francisco State Senator Mark Leno is more and more optimistic that his bill, which would reduce punishment for possession of small amounts of drugs, including heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine, will pass the full state senate when it is voted on next week.

The bill would reduce the penalty for simple drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor, a classification already in place in more than a dozen states.

KCBS’ Anna Duckworth Reports:

“And what we found in those 13 states which already do this is they have higher rates of drug treatment participation and lower rates of drug use, not surprisingly, because we know the treatment works,” said Leno.

A new poll by Tulchin Research in San Francisco shows that there is overwhelming support for a reform in California’s drug laws.

Pollster Ben Tulchin said it shows 87 percent of likely voters believe the state’s prison system is overcrowded and 70 percent support reducing simple possession punishment.

“Not surprisingly, the Bay Area offers the highest support for this reform at 82 percent,” said Tulchin.

Opponents to the bill include several law enforcement organizations and the California District Attorney’s Association, which argue it would be a disincentive to treatment and could lead to an increase in crime.

The non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office said the law could save counties $159 million a year and the state $64 million annually.

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