Thursday, March 28, 2013

Marijuana Decriminalization Bills Continue to Advance in Four New States

Four states recently advanced marijuana rights this month. Hawaii, Maryland, New Hampshire, and New Jersey have all passed measures to reclassify minor marijuana offenses. This would decriminalize the offenses and make them punishable by only fines, with no criminal record, jail time, or arrests.

In Hawaii, the Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 472 which would change marijuana possession from a criminal misdemeanor to an infraction. On March 14th, this Bill was revised to cap fines at no more than $100 for violations for infractions of possessing 20 grams or less of cannabis.

In Maryland, Senate Bill 297 was passed to significantly reduce penalties for non-medical use of marijuana. Under this bill, minor marijuana offenses would be punishable by only a fine of $100, instead of the current penalty of $500 and up to 90 days in jail. The bill will now go before the House on March 28th at 1pm.

New Hampshire
New Hampshire House members recently voted in favor of House Bill 621 that would decriminalize marijuana possession offenses and make them an infraction, punishable by only a fine. Currently, New Hampshire's law punishes those found guilty of marijuana possession up to 1 year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

New Jersey
Assembly Bill 1465 took one step further in New Jersey and now awaits action by the Senate. This would decriminalize possessing up to 50 grams of marijuana. Possessing up to 50 grams of marijuana is currently punishable by up to 6 months in jail, a $1,000 fine, and a criminal record .

The majority of voters continue to support pot reform and polls found that 6 out of 10 voters favored removing criminal penalties for first time marijuana possession offenders. Currently, 15 states have now decriminalized marijuana possession to a fine-only offense.

No comments: