The Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday passed a measure to decriminalize cannabis possession up to 2 ounces for first-time offenders, which would lower penalties from a misdemeanor penalized by up to a year in jail to a $250 fine.
Attorney Will League, who supports the reforms, told WAFF, that the measure would help youthful offenders avoid criminal ramifications associated with low-level possession convictions.
“Youth who has an indiscretion, not to affect his or her future and get them into the system. And once you get into the system, you’re talking about probation, records, poor issues finding jobs, and some things that could move past just their youth to affect them moving forward.” – League to WAFF
The measure was sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Sen. Bobby Singleton (D) and moves next to the full chamber for consideration. Singleton introduced more sweeping decriminalization legislation in 2019 that would apply to all possession charges – not just first offenses – but that measure died in the Judiciary Committee.
A recent report found Black people in Alabama were 4.1 times more likely to be arrested for cannabis possession in Alabama than their white counterparts.
In 2018, decriminalization legislation was introduced in both legislative chambers but neither failed to gain traction. The House bill died in committee while the Senate bill was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee but did not get a vote by the full chamber.
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