Assembly Bill 130 / Senate Bill 164.
From 2009-2018, 161,016 arrests were made for simple possession of marijuana. Comparatively, there were 19,190 arrests made for possession with intent to deliver.
The burden placed on local resources, from police focus, man-hours for arrests, paper work, and court appearances, to the court system dockets and public defender costs, would be much better spent on serious, violent crimes.
Like other common substances consumed by adults – alcohol, psychoactive caffeine, etc. – we recognize morally that the victimless crime of imbibing is itself not illegal. We do still hold individuals legally responsible if they should commit crimes while under the influence, as we should.
However, because marijuana is illegal on the federal level, this bill does not legalize marijuana. Instead, it reduces the penalties for possessing negligible amounts. This will act to relieve the financial burden the state and local law enforcement dedicate to marijuana possession, and open up resources for the enforcement of more serious crimes.
When someone is jailed or convicted of a felony for possessing a small amount of marijuana, it affects the rest of their life and makes it very difficult to gain employment. This adds further burdens on our criminal justice system, and makes it harder to businesses to employ qualified workers who have criminal convictions. There are no winners for aggressively enforcing simple marijuana possession.
Current law prohibits a person from possessing or attempting to possess marijuana. A person who is convicted of violating the prohibition may be fined not more than $1,000 or imprisoned for not more than six months, or both, for the first conviction and is guilty of a Class I felony for a second or subsequent conviction.
This bill reduces the state penalty to a $100 forfeiture, uniformly and preemptively across the state, for possessing or attempting to possess not more than 10 grams of marijuana and eliminates the increase in penalty if second or subsequent violations involve not more than 10 grams of marijuana. While this would increase the penalty in certain municipalities with ordinances that have penalties lower than $100, the ultimate goal is to create certainty and uniformity across the state.
Use the follow Action Alert to send a pre-written letter of support to your elected officials: