Decriminalization

Louisiana: Gov. Bobby Jindal Signs Marijuana Sentencing Reform Law

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New Law an Important Step Toward Reducing Louisiana’s Notoriously Overcrowded Prisons and Jails

Even With This Reform, Louisiana’s Marijuana Laws Remain Harsher Than Nearly All Other U.S. States; Majority of Louisianans Support Ending All Criminal Penalties for Marijuana Possession

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal on Tuesday signed legislation to reform the state’s severely punitive marijuana laws and reduce criminal penalties for simple marijuana possession. The law is expected to save the state up to $17 million and will reduce the chances of Louisianans caught with small amounts of marijuana ending up with lengthy jail or prison sentences or saddled with a criminal conviction.

“Louisiana's overdue for a major overhaul of its drug policies and this is a good first step,” said Yolande Cadore, director of strategic partnerships at Drug Policy Action, the lobbying arm of the Drug Policy Alliance. “It's a relief to see that smart policymakers are starting to recognize this political reality.”

The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world – and Louisiana has the highest rate in the U.S. Louisiana’s incarceration rate has doubled in the last twenty years and is nearly five times higher than Iran's, 13 times higher than China's and 20 times higher than Germany's.

One of the key drivers of Louisiana’s world-leading incarceration rate is the war on drugs – 18,000 Louisiana residents are arrested for drug law violations each year.

Delaware: Governor Markell Signs Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Into Law

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Delaware becomes 20th state in the nation to remove the threat of jail for simple marijuana possession

Delaware Gov. Jack Markell signed a bill into law Thursday night that will remove criminal penalties and potential jail time for adult possession of a small amount of marijuana. The Delaware Senate approved the bill 12-9 earlier in the evening. The new law will take effect in six months.

HB 39, introduced by Rep. Helene Keeley (D-Wilmington South) in the House and sponsored by Judiciary Committee Chair Margaret Rose Henry (D-Wilmington East) in the Senate, will replace criminal penalties for adult marijuana possession with a civil fine similar to a traffic ticket. Under current Delaware law, possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor with a maximum punishment of a $575 fine and three months in jail.

Delaware is the 20th state to decriminalize marijuana possession or make it legal for adults. Nineteen other states and the District of Columbia have adopted laws removing the threat of jail time for simple marijuana possession, four of which also regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol. The Illinois General Assembly approved a similar measure in May, which is now awaiting action from the governor.

Delaware: Legislature Decriminalizes Marijuana Possession; Governor Expected To Sign

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The Delaware Senate on Thursday approved a bill 12-9 on Thursday that would remove criminal penalties and potential jail time for adult possession of a small amount of marijuana.

The measure, which was approved in the House earlier this month, will now be sent to Gov. Jack Markell (D), who is expected to sign it into law. In a March letter to the editor of The New York Times, Gov. Jack Markell said he is “hopeful that [his] state will decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.”

HB 39, introduced by Rep. Helene Keeley (D-Wilmington South) in the House and sponsored by Judiciary Committee Chair Margaret Rose Henry (D-Wilmington East) in the Senate, would replace criminal penalties for adult marijuana possession with a civil fine similar to a traffic ticket. Under current Delaware law, possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor with a maximum punishment of a $575 fine and three months in jail.

“Laws that criminalize people for simple marijuana possession are outdated and counterproductive,” Rep. Keeley said. “Delaware is taking an appropriate step to right size the penalty for small quantity possession.”

“Senate action on this bill is commonsense and will remove the potential implication a criminal record can have for a person seeking employment, housing, and education,” Sen. Henry said. “It is important to more appropriately penalize people in possession of marijuana for personal use.”

Delaware: Senate Committee Approves Bill To Remove Criminal Penalties For Marijuana

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The Delaware Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday approved a bill 4-2 that would remove criminal penalties and potential jail time for simple adult marijuana possession and replace them with a civil fine similar to a traffic ticket. The measure will now be considered by the full Senate.

HB 39, introduced by Rep. Helene Keeley (D-Wilmington South) in the House and sponsored by Judiciary Committee Chair Margaret Rose Henry (D-Wilimington East) in the Senate, would make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by an adult a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine with no possibility of jail. Under current Delaware law, possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $575 fine and up to three months in jail.

The House of Representatives approved HB 39 on June 2, and Gov. Jack Markell (D) said in a March letter to the editor of The New York Times that he is “hopeful that [his] state will decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.”

“Adults should not face potentially life-altering criminal penalties simply for possessing a small amount of marijuana,” Sen. Henry said. "The potential impact for employment, housing, and education are too severe under current law for the violation.”

Louisiana: Gov. Bobby Jindal Expected To Sign Law Reducing Marijuana Penalties

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New Law Would Be Important Step Toward Reducing Louisiana’s Notoriously Overcrowded Prisons and Jails

Even With This Reform, Louisiana’s Marijuana Laws Would Remain Harsher Than Nearly All Other U.S. States; Majority of Louisianans Support Ending All Criminal Penalties for Marijuana Possession

The Louisiana Legislature on Monday voted to reform its state’s severely punitive marijuana laws and reduce criminal penalties for simple marijuana possession. If signed into law, it’s expected to save the state up to $17 million and will reduce the chances of Louisianans caught with small amounts of marijuana ending up with lengthy jail or prison sentences or saddled with a criminal conviction.

“This is a long-sought opportunity to take a more compassionate and commonsense approach to marijuana,” said Yolande Cadore, director of strategic partnerships at the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “Louisiana's overdue for a major overhaul of its drug policies and this is a good first step."

The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world – and Louisiana has the highest rate in the U.S. Louisiana’s incarceration rate has doubled in the last 20 years and is nearly five times higher than Iran's, 13 times higher than China's and 20 times higher than Germany's.

One of the key drivers of Louisiana’s world-leading incarceration rate is the war on drugs – 18,000 Louisiana residents are arrested for drug law violations each year.

New Hampshire: Senate Blocks Widely Supported Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

DecriminalizeMarijuana!

Despite overwhelming approval in the House — and a poll released last week that found 63% of New Hampshire voters support such legislation — the Senate tabled HB 618 on Thursday evening

The New Hampshire Senate on Thursday evening blocked a widely supported bill that would have removed criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

After Senators voted 9-15 to overturn the Judiciary Committee’s recommendation that the bill be killed, Sens. Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro) and David Pierce (D-Etna) proposed a compromise floor amendment to HB 618. Four senators argued strongly against the bill and the amendment: David Boutin (R-Hooksett), Sharon Carson (R-Londonderry), Gary Daniels (R-Milford), and Jeannie Forrester (R-Meredith).

Senators were unable to agree on the language and the bill was tabled.

HB 618, which the House approved 297-67 in March, would have made possession of up to one-half ounce of marijuana a civil violation punishable by a fine of $100 for a first offense, $200 for a second offense, and $500 for a third or subsequent offense. Under current state law, possession of any amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000.

Delaware: House Approves Bill To Remove Criminal Penalties For Marijuana Possession

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Senate will now consider HB 39, which would replace potential jail time with a civil fine for possession of a small amount of marijuana by adults

The Delaware House of Representatives on Tuesday approved a bill 24-14 that would remove criminal penalties and potential jail time for possession of a small amount of marijuana and replace them with a civil fine similar to a traffic ticket. The bill, which was amended on the floor to apply only to adults, will now be sent to the Senate.

HB 39, introduced by Rep. Helene Keeley (D-Wilmington South), would make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by an adult a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine with no possibility of jail. Under current Delaware law, possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $575 fine and up to three months in jail.

“Laws that criminalize people for simple marijuana possession are outdated and counterproductive,” said Robert Capecchi, deputy director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “We’re grateful the Delaware House agrees and hopeful that the Senate will join them in supporting this commonsense legislation.

"Delaware cannot afford to continue arresting people, jailing them, and giving them criminal records just for possessing a small amount of marijuana,” Capecchi said.

Louisiana: Senate Approves Bill To Reform Draconian Marijuana Possession Law

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New Law Would Be Important Step Toward Reducing Louisiana’s Notoriously Overcrowded Prisons and Jails

Bill Now Heads to the House

Louisiana’s Senate on Monday took an important step toward reforming their state’s harsh marijuana possession law when they approved bill SB 241 by a vote of 27-12. If passed, Louisiana would join the growing number of states that have recently reduced penalties for small amounts of marijuana.

“This is a long-sought opportunity to take a more compassionate and commonsense approach to marijuana,” said Yolande Cadore, director of strategic partnerships at the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “Louisiana's overdue for a major overhaul of its drug policies and this is a good first step."

The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world – and Louisiana has the highest rate in the U.S. Louisiana’s incarceration rate has doubled in the last twenty years and is nearly five times higher than Iran's, 13 times higher than China's and 20 times higher than Germany's. One of the key drivers of Louisiana’s world-leading incarceration rate is the war on drugs – 18,000 Louisiana residents are arrested for drug law violations each year.

Maryland: Governor Vetoes Popular Bill Intended To Fix Marijuana Decrim Law

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Marijuana Policy Coalition of Maryland calls on state lawmakers to override veto of SB 517, which would remove criminal penalties for possession of marijuana paraphernalia

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced late Friday afternoon that he has vetoed a widely supported bill to remove criminal penalties for possession of marijuana paraphernalia, including potential jail time.

SB 517, introduced by Sen. Bobby Zirkin (D-Baltimore County), was approved 32-13 in the Senate and 83-53 in the House of Delegates. The measure would also have designated public marijuana consumption a civil offense punishable by a $500 fine.

Maryland adopted a law last year that decriminalized possession of a small amount of marijuana, but it did not include marijuana paraphernalia. That leaves the state in the unusual position of having decriminalized marijuana itself, but marijuana paraphernalia is still a crime.

Gov. Hogan’s letter to Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller announcing the veto and explaining his reasoning is available at http://bit.ly/1ellF1e.

Illinois: Senate Approves Bill To Remove Criminal Penalties For Marijuana Possession

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Measure Will Be Sent to Gov. Bruce Rauner for His Signature

HB 218 replaces the threat of jail time and a criminal record with a civil penalty — a $125 fine, similar to a traffic ticket — for possession of a small amount of marijuana

The Illinois Senate on Thursday approved a bill 37-19 to remove criminal penalties for possession of a small amount of marijuana. The measure, which was approved by the House of Representatives in April, will now be sent to Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner for his signature.

HB 218, introduced in the Senate by Sen. Michael Noland (D-Elgin) and in the House by Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago), makes possession of up to 15 grams of marijuana a civil law violation punishable by a $125 fine. Individuals will no longer face time in jail, and the civil offense will be automatically expunged in order to prevent a permanent criminal record.

“Serious criminal penalties should be reserved for individuals who commit serious crimes,” Rep. Cassidy said. “The possibility of jail time should not even be on the table when it comes to simple marijuana possession. Criminalizing people for marijuana possession is not a good use of our state’s limited law enforcement resources.”

Louisiana: Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Bill Reforming Marijuana Possession Law

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Measure Would Allow Second Chance for First-Time Offenders and Save Millions of Dollars

Bill Heads to Full Senate

Lawmakers in Louisiana on Wednesday took a major step forward when the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill to reform the state’s harsh marijuana possession law. If passed, Louisiana would join the growing number of states that have recently reduced penalties for small amounts of marijuana.

“This is a long-sought opportunity to take a more compassionate and commonsense approach to marijuana,” said Yolande Cadore, director of strategic partnerships at the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “Louisiana's overdue for a major overhaul of its drug policies and this is a good first step."

The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world – and Louisiana has the highest rate in the U.S. Louisiana’s incarceration rate has doubled in the last 20 years and is nearly five times higher than Iran's, 13 times higher than China's and 20 times higher than Germany's.

One of the key drivers of Louisiana’s world-leading incarceration rate is the War On Drugs – 18,000 Louisiana residents are arrested for drug law violations each year.

Texas: Provocative Marijuana TV Ad To Begin Airing As Lawmakers Consider Reducing Penalties

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A provocative television ad in support of legislation to reduce penalties for simple marijuana possession in Texas began airing Tuesday in the state’s four largest media markets.

The ad is scheduled to air on CNN, ESPN, and Fox News Channel across Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin through Thursday at midnight, the deadline by which the House must approve HB 507 in order for it to advance to the Senate.

You can watch the ad below, or online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E83Uv4VtpsE.

In the ad, Russell Jones, a Texas Hill Country resident who served 10 years as a police officer and narcotics detective in California, highlights the relative safety of marijuana compared to alcohol and says limited law enforcement resources should not be wasted on arresting and jailing people for using the less harmful substance.

“I know of no instance in my entire career where someone was acting out under the influence of marijuana,” Jones says. “People under the influence of alcohol are much more problematic.

"Law enforcement officials have more important things to do with their time than arrest people for marijuana possession," Jones says in the ad. "They need to be there to protect the public, to respond to crimes such as robbery, burglaries, rape, and murders.”

The ad cites annual arrest reports produced by the Texas Department of Public Safety that show more than 360,000 arrests for marijuana possession were made in Texas from 2009-2013.

Delaware: House Committee Approves Bill Removing Criminal Penalties For Marijuana Possession

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The Delaware House of Representatives Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday approved a bill 5-4 that would remove criminal penalties and potential jail time for possession of a small amount of marijuana and replace them with a civil fine similar to a traffic ticket. The bill now moves to the full House for consideration.

HB 39, introduced by Rep. Helene Keeley (D-Wilmington South), would make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine with no possibility of jail. Under current Delaware law, possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $575 fine and up to three months in jail.

“This is a modest, commonsense policy change that is long overdue in Delaware,” Rep. Keeley said. “Simply possessing a small amount of marijuana does not warrant jail time and the other serious consequences of a criminal conviction. The punishment should fit the crime, not cause more harm than the crime.”

More than two-thirds of Delaware voters (68 percent) support removing criminal penalties for marijuana possession and making it a civil offense, punishable by a fine of up to $100 with no possibility of jail time, according to a statewide survey conducted in March by Public Policy Polling. Only 26 percent said they were opposed. Full results are available at http://www.mpp.org/DEpoll.

Texas: Bill To Reduce Penalties For Marijuana Possession Advances In House

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Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence approves HB 507, which would remove the threat of arrest, jail time, and a criminal record for possession of a personal amount of marijuana and replace them with a civil fine of up to $250

The Texas House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence on Monday approved a bill that would reduce state penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. The measure will now advance to the House Calendars Committee.

HB 507, authored by committee vice-chair Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso), would remove the threat of arrest, jail time, and a criminal record for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and replace them with a civil fine of up to $250. Under current Texas law, individuals found in possession of less than two ounces of marijuana can be arrested and given a criminal record, and they face up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.

“Texas cannot afford to continue criminalizing tens of thousands of citizens for marijuana possession each year,” Rep. Moody said. “We need to start taking a more level-headed approach. It is neither fair nor prudent to arrest people, jail them, and give them criminal records for such a low-level, non-violent offense.”

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, there were 72,150 arrests or citations issued for marijuana-related offenses in Texas in 2012, 97% of which were for simple possession. That same year, nearly 90% of all burglaries, including home invasions, and 88% of all motor vehicle thefts went unsolved.

Illinois: House Approves Bill To Decriminalize Marijuana Possession

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Illinois House on Thursday approved a decriminalization measure under which possession of small amounts of marijuana would result in a fine instead of arrest.

Minor cannabis possession would go from a crime with up to a year in jail and fines of up to $2,500 to become more like a traffic ticket, with no court time and a fine maxing out at $125, reports Jessie Hellmann at the Chicago Tribune.

House Bill 218 would apply to people caught with 15 grams or less of marijuana, just over half an ounce.

The legislation would create a uniform penalty throughout the state, and eliminate the option for police to arrest people carrying small amounts of cannabis, according to sponsor Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago).

"We currently have a patchwork of local ordinances where there is the possibility of getting a ticket but not a given that you'll get a ticket, so it's an open question where you go whether you're going to get arrested or get a ticket," Rep. Cassidy said.

"That creates a system whereby it depends on where you live, and what you look like, and unfortunately more often than not, it is folks who are black and brown who are being arrested, who are being pulled off the streets, pulled away from their jobs and their families and put into our jails and prisons," she said.

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