Archive for the ‘decriminalization’ category

New Mexico Legislature to Consider Reducing Marijuana Penalties

February 18th, 2015
Joseph cervantes
Sen. Joseph Cervantes

Last November, voters in Bernalillo and Santa Fe Counties in New Mexico weighed in on whether to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana. They responded with overwhelming support, with Bernalillo County voting 60% and Santa Fe County voting 73% in favor. Now, legislators from across the state have the opportunity to act on the will of their constituents. SB 383, sponsored by Sen. Joseph Cervantes, reduces the penalty for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana to a civil penalty of $50. 

This common-sense policy will save the state time, money, and resources, while also improving public safety. Millions of dollars every year are wasted on processing thousands of low-level, nonviolent marijuana offenders. It takes time for police to book marijuana users, prosecutors to try cases, and labs to test marijuana. This is an egregious waste of law enforcement’s limited resources, which could be better spent addressing more pressing public safety needs.

Support is growing for more sensible marijuana policies in the state Senate. Just last week, the Rules Committee approved of Sen. Ortiz y Piño’s resolution to place a question on the ballot asking voters to end marijuana prohibition. Please email your legislators today and ask for their support on this long overdue reform. 

The post New Mexico Legislature to Consider Reducing Marijuana Penalties appeared first on MPP Blog.

New Hampshire Lawmakers Consider Reducing Marijuana Penalties

January 29th, 2015

A bill has been introduced in the New Hampshire House of Representatives that would remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. The House passed a nearly identical bill last year by a vote of 215-92, but the Senate refused to consider it.

Schroadter
Rep. Adam Schroadter

HB 618, sponsored by Rep. Adam Schroadter (R-Newmarket) and a bipartisan group of seven co-sponsors, would make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana punishable by a civil fine of up to $100. It would also make cultivation of up to six marijuana plants a Class A misdemeanor instead of a felony. Currently, 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. New Hampshire is the only state in New England that treats simple marijuana possession as a criminal offense with the potential for jail time.

Virgin Islands Senate Overrides Governor Veto of Marijuana Bill

January 29th, 2015

Earlier this month, Gov. John deJongh Jr. of the U.S. Virgin Islands stated that he supported decriminalizing marijuana, despite the fact that he vetoed a bill that would reduce penalties at the end of 2014. The Senate overrode his initial veto, adding the Virgin IslandsSeal_of_the_United_States_Virgin_Islands to the list of U.S. territories that are changing their marijuana policies.

Sen. Terrence Nelson sponsored the measure, which is now law, to decriminalize the possession of less than 1 ounce of marijuana and make it a civil offense punishable by a fine of between $100 and $200, with the possible forfeiture of the contraband.

In the case that an offender is younger than 18, the offender could receive a $100 fine, the parents or guardians would have to be notified and the offender will be required to complete an approved drug awareness program within one year of the possession.

Wyoming House Judiciary Committee Approves Decriminalization Bill

January 21st, 2015

On Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee of the Wyoming Legislature approved a bill – HB 29 ­– that would replace the current criminal penalty for marijuana possession with a more sensible civil fine. By a vote of 7-2, the committee supported the proposal that will end the threat of arrest for first and second possession charges.

Rep Jim Byrd
Rep. Jim Byrd

Sponsored by Rep. Jim Byrd, the bill originally sought to impose a civil fine of $50 for the first or second possession of up to a half an ounce of marijuana and a $100 fine for possession of up to an ounce. The committee amended this language and set the fines at $250 for possession of up to half an ounce and $500 for possession of up to an ounce. If you are a Wyoming resident, please encourage your representative to support this bill, and ask her or him to lower the fine as well.

No one should be saddled with a criminal record for the simple act of possessing a substance that is safer than alcohol. If HB 29 is made law, Wyomingites will no longer face that overly harsh penalty. Email your representatives in support of HB 29 and encourage your friends and family in Wyoming to do so too!

Arizona Legislature to Consider Bills to Legalize and Decriminalize Marijuana

January 9th, 2015
CARDENAS
Rep. Mark Cardenas

MPP believes legalizing, taxing, and regulating marijuana for adults 21 and over is a more sensible approach than continuing failed prohibition policies, and so does Arizona state Rep. Mark Cardenas. He recently introduced HB 2007, a bill that would treat marijuana like alcohol, similar to the laws of Colorado, Washington, Alaska, and Oregon. If you are an Arizona resident, please take a moment to contact your state senator and representative and voice your support.

Marijuana prohibition has been just as ineffective, inefficient, and problematic as alcohol prohibition, and both national and Arizona polls now regularly show support for a better approach. Marijuana is less harmful than alcohol. Regulating it would replace the underground market, and law enforcement officials’ time could be more effectively directed to addressing serious crime.

Rep. Cardenas has also introduced HB 2006, which would establish a $100 civil penalty for the possession of an ounce or less of marijuana. In addition to the four states that have legalized marijuana for adults, well over a dozen states have lowered criminal penalties with sensible alternatives to putting people in jail for choosing a substance that is safer than alcohol.

Please support these important bills, and pass this message on to friends, family, and supporters in Arizona!

POLL: 60% of Virginia Voters Support Marijuana Decriminalization

January 6th, 2015

vabillboardA poll conducted by the firm Public Policy Polling (PPP) revealed that 60% of Virginia voters would support decriminalizing the adult possession of small amounts of marijuana, indicating strong support for state Senator Adam Ebbin’s marijuana decriminalization measure, Senate Bill 686. Decriminalization had majority support from every age, racial, and gender demographic.

The survey also had support for legalization and regulation of marijuana in the Commonwealth at a record high of 49% support to 44% opposed.

With the legislative session kicking off in Virginia, expect to hear much more about this pending legislation in the coming weeks. If you are a Virginia resident, please CLICK HERE to quickly and easily contact your state Senator and urge their support for SB 686. It is time that our state officials pursued a policy on marijuana that was “Smart on crime and smart for Virginia.”

We strongly encourage you also attend Virginia NORML‘s lobby day in Richmond on January 16th to help put the pressure on state legislators in person. You can click here for more information on lobby day.

If you find yourself traveling in the Richmond area, keep your eyes peeled for Virginia NORML’s billboard in support of SB 686, which should be going on display very soon on Route 360 as you drive over the James River (the billboard image is featured at the top of this post).

This poll was commissioned by MPP and conducted by Public Policy Polling. You can read the full results here.

TAKE ACTION VIRGINIA – CLICK HERE TO CONTACT YOUR STATE SENATOR IN SUPPORT OF SB 686

Virginia Poll Shows Strong Support for Marijuana Policy Reform

January 6th, 2015
 A strong majority of state voters support reforming Virginia marijuana laws, according to a Public Policy Polling survey released Tuesday. The poll of 884 registered VirginiaVA seal voters was conducted January 2-4 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.3%. The full results are available at http://www.mpp.org/VApoll.

Three out of five Virginians surveyed support removing criminal penalties for possessing up to an ounce of pot and three out of four back medical marijuana use for seriously or terminally ill patients, according to a survey released Tuesday by an advocacy group.

Forty-nine percent polled support legalizing marijuana for adults

“Most voters do not support laws that saddle people with criminal penalties just for possessing a small amount of marijuana,” said Rachelle Yeung, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project. “These antiquated prohibition laws are causing far more problems than they solve.”

The survey by Public Policy Polling found that 60 percent of voters questioned say the criminal penalties for possession of up an an ounce should be replaced with a $100 fine with no possibility of jail time. The offense currently is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.

The Virginia Senate this year is to consider making personal possession punishable only by a civil fine of $100.

Seventy-four percent of those polled backed the medical marijuana use for seriously and terminally ill patients. Sixty-four percent said they would be more likely to vote for a legislator who supported the change.

Pot Possession Decriminalized In US Virgin Islands

December 22nd, 2014

Legislation decriminalizing the possession of one ounce or less of cannabis in the United States Virgin Islands became law this weekend.

On Friday, Senate lawmakers voted to override Gov. John P. DeJongh’s line-item veto of the decriminalization provision, which had been included in territory’s 2015 fiscal year budget.

The depenalization measure eliminates jail time for minor marijuana offenses. Under the new law, cannabis possession for those age 18 and older is classified as a civil offense, punishable by a fine between $100 and $200. Those under the age of 18 will also be required to complete a drug awareness program.

(Under the previous law, minor marijuana possession offenses were punishable by up to one year in jail and a $5,000 fine.)

The enactment of the new law “will go a long way in easing cost on the judicial system and judicial process,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Terrance Nelson. Senators voted 14-0 to override the President’s veto.

Virginia to Consider Decriminalizing Marijuana Possession

December 16th, 2014

When the Virginia Legislature convenes in January, a bill to stop criminalizing those who simply possess marijuana will be awaiting consideration.

Today, an individual convicted of marijuana possession in Virginia20100115152653!Virginia_new_sign can be thrown in jail for up to thirty days, fined up to $500, or both! This overly punitive approach can destroy dreams — a criminal conviction makes it harder to get a job, housing, and education. Criminalizing marijuana possession also wastes vast amounts of resources. In 2012, there were more than 20,000 arrests made in Virginia for marijuana possession. It takes time for police to book marijuana users, prosecutors to try cases, and labs to test marijuana. Meanwhile, more than half of all reported rapes and 80% of all burglaries went unsolved.

SB 686 takes a more sensible and humane approach by replacing the criminal penalties with a civil penalty of up to $100. Punishing marijuana possession with a civil citation recognizes that no one should be denied housing or a job because they possessed a substance safer than alcohol. It also allows Virginia’s law enforcement to quickly issue a ticket and move on to police more serious matters.

If you are a Virginia resident, please email your state delegate and senator today and ask them to support this sensible and long overdue reform — SB 686.

Bill to Reduce Penalties for Possession Filed in Texas

December 15th, 2014
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Rep. Joe Moody

At a press conference held today and hosted by Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, State Representative Joe Moody announced the details of his new bill to stop branding Texans as criminals for possessing up to an ounce of marijuana.  

Many members of our coalition, including Texas District Court Judge John Delaney, the ACLU of Texas, Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition, and the Marijuana Policy Project, joined him for the big announcement.

Our current marijuana policy in Texas just isn’t working,” Rep. Moody said. “We need a new approach that allows us to more effectively utilize our limited criminal justice resources. This legislation is a much-needed step in the right direction.”

More than 60% of Texas voters support limiting the punishment for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana to a fine of $100 with no possibility of jail time, according to a September 2013 poll conducted by Public Policy Polling.

Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have removed the threat of jail time for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Now is the time to contact your state legislators. They cannot represent you if they don’t know about your support for this bill! If you are a Texas resident, click here to send an email now. Then, spread the news to your friends and family, so that they, too, can speak out to support more humane and sensible marijuana policies.