By Patrick McGreevy
May 2, 2013, 11:06 a.m.

SACRAMENTO — The state Senate on Thursday approved a bill that would allow prosecutors to file misdemeanor instead of felony charges in cases of simple possession of heroin, cocaine and other hard drugs.

State Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) said he introduced the measure based on the experience of other states that allow misdemeanor filings for hard drugs.

“In these 13 other states we can document that there is higher participation in drug treatment,” Leno said. “As a result there is lower drug use. As a result, there is less violent and property crime in these 13 other states.”

Leno sponsored a bill last year that would have required hard-drug possession be charged as a misdemeanor, but that measure was rejected after law enforcement officials said it took away their leverage to get drug users to go into treatment and other programs.

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