criminal penalties

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: 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: 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.

New Hampshire: House Approves Removing Criminal Penalties For Marijuana Possession

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Bill with bipartisan support would replace potential jail time with a civil fine for possession of small amounts of marijuana

The New Hampshire House of Representatives on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a bill 297-67 that would remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. The measure will now be considered in the Senate.

“We’re pleased to see such strong legislative support for this important legislation,” said Matt Simon, Goffstown-based New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “We hope the Senate will agree with their colleagues in the House and the vast majority of state voters that it’s time to stop criminalizing people for simple marijuana possession.”

HB 618, sponsored by Rep. Adam Schroadter (R-Newmarket) and a bipartisan group of seven co-sponsors, would make possession of up to one-half ounce of marijuana punishable by a civil fine of $100 for a first offense, $200 for a second offense, and up to $500 for third or subsequent offenses. 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.

Delaware: Lawmakers To Hold Hearing On Removing Criminal Penalties For Marijuana

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Advocates will urge the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee to support a measure that would replace possible jail time with a civil fine similar to a traffic ticket; the hearing is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. ET in the House Minority Caucus Room

The Delaware House of Representatives Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing Wednesday on a proposal to remove criminal penalties for adult marijuana possession.

The committee will consider an amended version of HB 371, sponsored by Rep. Helene Keeley (D-Wilmington), which would make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana a civil offense, punishable by a fine, similar to a traffic ticket. Under current Delaware law, possession of any amount of marijuana is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $1,150 and up to six months in jail.

“Nobody should be saddled with a criminal record simply for possessing a substance that is less harmful than alcohol,” said Rachelle Yeung, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), who will be at the hearing to testify in support of the bill. “A marijuana conviction can haunt individuals for the rest of their lives, depriving them of educational opportunities, employment, and public housing.

"Law enforcement officials’ time would be better spent addressing serious crimes instead of arresting and prosecuting adults for marijuana possession,” Yeung said.

Illinois: Marijuana Decrim Bill Advocates To Release Poll Showing Strong Support

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Group Will Also Release New Report Detailing Collateral Consequences of Being Arrested for Marijuana in Illinois

Central Illinois man who was denied public housing assistance 13 years after being arrested for possessing 2.5 grams of marijuana will join Illinois religious leader and others at a news conference Thursday at 11 a.m. CT in the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago

Supporters of a bill that would remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana in Illinois will on Thursday release the results of a statewide poll that show strong support for such legislation. The Illinois House Restorative Justice Committee approved the bill last week, and supporters are now calling on members of the House to approve the proposal.

A new report, “Marked for Life: Collateral Sanctions in Illinois,” which details the impact of being arrested for a marijuana-related offense in Illinois, will also be released. Collateral consequences of marijuana arrests in Illinois will also be the subject of a panel discussion at the Fourth Annual Forum on Drug Policy, which will be held Friday at Roosevelt University. For details, visit http://bit.ly/1jlWPe8.

New Hampshire: House Approves Bill to Remove Criminal Penalties for Marijuana Possession

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Measure with bipartisan support would replace criminal penalties and potential jail time with a civil fine of up to $100 for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana

The New Hampshire House of Representatives approved a bill 215-92 on Wednesday that would remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. The strong bipartisan support for the bill indicates the measure could withstand a veto from Gov. Maggie Hassan, who has expressed disapproval for such legislation despite broad public support. The bill will now go to the Senate, where it will be scheduled for a public hearing.

"This is a big step toward reducing the harms caused by marijuana prohibition," said Matt Simon, the Goffstown-based New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which is supporting the bill.

"New Hampshire residents are sick and tired of seeing their tax dollars used to criminalize people for using a substance that is safer than alcohol," Simon said. "The Senate and Gov. Hassan should join the House and the majority of state voters in supporting this sensible reform."

D.C.: Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Expected To Advance At Tuesday Council Meeting

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Eight of 13 council members are sponsoring measure that would replace criminal penalties for simple marijuana possession with a $25 civil fine similar to a parking ticket

A bill that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana in the District of Columbia is expected to advance Tuesday at a meeting of the Washington, DC Council, according to the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). If approved, it will be on the agenda for final passage at the council's next legislative session.

The measure would remove criminal penalties for possession of less than one ounce of marijuana for individuals 18 years of age and older and replace them with a civil fine of $25, similar to a parking ticket. The fine increases to $100 for public smoking of marijuana.

Individuals under the age of 18 who commit a violation would also have their parents notified. It also removes penalties for possession of paraphernalia in conjunction with small amounts and specifies that individuals cannot be searched or detained based solely on an officer’s suspicion of marijuana possession.

Currently, possession of any amount of marijuana is a criminal offense punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

The bill is sponsored by Ward 6 Council Member Tommy Wells and supported by eight of the council's 13 members, as well as by D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray.

At-large Council Member David Grosso has introduced separate legislation that would tax and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol.

D.C.: Councilmember Introduces Legislation to Eliminate Criminal Penalties for Marijuana Possession

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Momentum Builds for Marijuana Law Reform Following Major ACLU Findings of Racial Disparities, Money Wasted on D.C. Marijuana Arrests

Recent Poll Finds Three Out of Four D.C. Voters Want to Remove Criminal Penalties for Marijuana Possession

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Councilmember Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) will introduce legislation Wednesday before the Council of the District of Columbia that would eliminate criminal penalties under District law for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana.

The legislation would subject a person in possession of one ounce or less of marijuana to a $100 civil fine. Juveniles additionally would have to complete a drug awareness program under the proposal. Failure by a juvenile to complete a drug awareness program within a year would result in the provision of a $200 fine and court-ordered community service.

Introduction of this legislation follows the release last month of a groundbreaking report by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) that documented enormous racial disparities in arrests for marijuana possession in D.C. The report also found that District of Columbia residents are arrested for marijuana possession at greater rates than residents of any U.S. state, and that D.C. taxpayers spend more per capita on marijuana arrests than any U.S. state.

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