A bill that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of cannabis passed the state House of Representatives and will now go before the state Senate.
House Bill 1383 will, if passed, remove criminal penalties incurred by possession of three grams or less of marijuana. Instead, possession of up to three grams would only incur a $200 fine.
The bill would also dismiss any pending criminal charges and expunge any criminal records pertaining to any marijuana offense involving three grams or less of marijuana.
“This law keeps drug dealers behind bars where they belong, but also keeps regular people who just had a joint out of jail to avoid creating more hardened criminals which makes crime worse,” said Representative Chris Lee, who co-introduced the bill, in a statement.
“It removes the unnecessary permanent mark from their record so they can go back to school, get a better job, and take care of their family. If we want to actually reduce crime and reduce substance abuse, then our taxpayer dollars are more effectively spent on treatment rather than jailing people at a cost of $146 per person per day.”
Earlier drafts of the bill were more radical. As it was first introduced, HB 1383 would have expunged all marijuana-related criminal records regardless of quantity.