Alabama senator proposing decriminalizing personal marijuana possession for minor offenses

Published: Feb. 14, 2022 at 4:51 PM CST
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - From a criminal penalty and potential jail time to a fine: that’s the change an Alabama senator is hoping to make for people who are caught with small amounts of marijuana.

It costs around $60 to house an inmate at the Madison County jail each day.

Attorney John Brinkley tells us sending people to jail for having small amounts of marijuana is putting added pressure on our jails.

As the law stands now, a person can spend up to a year in jail for being caught with marijuana for personal use, and it’s considered a misdemeanor. That’s at their first offense.

Under Senate Bill 160, by Bobby Singleton, if someone has more than two ounces of marijuana, it would still be considered a misdemeanor, but jail would be off the table.

Here is a breakdown of what Senator Singleton is proposing:

If it’s the first offense, the maximum penalty would be a $250 dollar fine. That would double for a second offense, and go up to $750 for a third offense.

A third offense for having more than two ounces would also result in a felony charge, but no jail time.

If someone is caught with less than two ounces they would still have a $250 fine, but would not have a criminal charge, it would be considered a violation.

Attorney John Brinkley says many people are arrested for having small amounts.

This bill would take away jail time or probation for these minor offenses.

“I think that we’re already moving in the right direction for what Singleton is interested in doing here. And I don’t think that it’s something that it’s going to put a lot of people at risk because quite frankly, people have been using marijuana left and right and have been for generations,” Brinkley said.

Brinkley also added that this would help people be able to get jobs and move forward, since having less than two ounces wouldn’t result in a criminal charge.

It’s also important to note, trafficking marijuana is a completely different crime that does not apply to this bill.

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