Changes in criminal law and reduced drug busts

Major drug arrests have long been a common occurrence across the state of California. Yet changes in laws surrounding drug charges, as well as shifting attitudes towards the practicality behind drug busts, have cast a different light on such arrests in recent years. Regardless of California’s gradually loosening grip on drug crimes, just one arrest could result in prolonged periods of  court dates and fees — not to mention the potentially damaging effects such arrests can have on one’s reputation.

Despite the changing views on crimes involving drug activity, The Orange County Register makes clear that a large majority of Californians express discontent toward excessive drug use. In August 2017, The Register focused on an ordeal in which the city of Santa Ana is filing a lawsuit against California Lodge Suites, a local hotel, for its notorious drug activity. The hotel has been known as a central location for criminal activity involving heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine. California Lodge Suites has allegedly declined requests for comments, all while contempt from the city grows. While the conflict between Santa Ana and the lodge appears to be without end, The Register adds that the Drug Den Abatement Act has allowed the city to take serious legal action against the business. 

The conversations on the topic of drug charges may be tense in some areas, but the Desert Sun released an article last December noting the state’s overall drop in drug busts. The article is quick to mention the ballot called Proposition 47, which changes certain drug possession charges from felonies to misdemeanors. This slight change has come with monumental effects: in 2015 alone, California police made roughly 22,000 fewer drug arrests. Other factors, including less jail space and limited time to spend making such arrests, have also had a hand in reducing the number of drug busts statewide. Instead of focusing primarily on isolated drug users, law enforcement has recently shifted their priorities toward street gangs, who are often the source for drug supply. 

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