Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Legal Weed: States Where Cannabis is Decriminalized

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Activist Post

The legalization and decriminalization of marijuana is an issue that has been making more and more appearances in legislative agendas throughout the America. What was once a taboo topic that kept supporters closeted with their opinions has made its way into open forums.

Lawmakers around the country are laying the groundwork to make way for legal weed states. The strict laws that today put many people into jail may soon be tossed aside in the same way as alcohol prohibition from the 1920s. The government saw back then that prohibition was a failed legislation and that there were benefits to be had by legalizing and regulating the sale of alcohol.

Many states are in the process of decriminalizing cannabis. This is not the same as legalization. With decriminalization, lawmakers are ending the arrest of individuals who are found in possession of small amounts of weed, typically an ounce or less. Instead of imprisonment and a criminal record, the person will be given a fine and the cannabis confiscated. It makes the enforcement of laws pertaining to marijuana a low priority for law enforcement.

Legalization would allow the sale and use of marijuana by adults under a regulated system in the same way that alcohol and tobacco are being controlled. By making it legal to grow, sell and use cannabis, the government will not only gain revenue but it will also reduce may costs that are associated with the arrest and incarceration of pot users. It is estimated that this could net the country an additional $20 billion annually.

To date, there are 15 states in America that have decriminalized weed. What was once a misdemeanor crime that entailed jail time and hundreds or thousands of dollars in fines is now considered a “non-arrestable civil offense” similar to getting a traffic ticket.

United States non-medical cannabis decriminalization laws.
  State-level but not federal decriminalization of non-medical cannabis
  No federal or state level decriminalization of non-medical cannabis

Alaska: Alaska voters have opted not to legalize weed in the state. In 2000 and 2004, voters rejected legislation that would remove the criminal and civil penalties for cannabis usage and possession. It would have also allowed the state to regulate the sale of weed in the same way as alcohol. However, there is no penalty for the private possession of less than 4 ounces of weed and no more than 25 plants being cultivated in your residence. This is to protect residents’ constitutional right to privacy. Alaska also has laws enacted for legal medical marijuana use.

California: Senate Bill 1449 was signed into law in 2010 to decriminalize the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana. This eliminates the need to appear in court, treating the offense as a minor infraction with a $100 fine. Proposition 19 was introduced and rejected in 2010, which would have made recreational use of marijuana legal. California was one of the first medical pot states, approving Proposition 215 back in 1996, known as the Compassionate Use Act.

Colorado: Possession of marijuana between 2 and 6 ounces for private use is considered a petty offense and has a maximum penalty of $100. Medical marijuana use is legal in this state.

Connecticut: In 2011, Connecticut passed SB 1014, legislation that decriminalized small, personal amounts of marijuana, up to one-half ounce. It is considered a non-criminal infraction with a maximum penalty of $150. This is another medical pot state as well.

Maine: Non-medical marijuana possession in small amounts up to 2.5 ounces is classified as civil, non-criminal offenses since 2009. Fines for possession are between $350 and $1,000. Medical use marijuana was approved in 1999.

Massachusetts: In 2009, the punishment for marijuana possession, up to one ounce, was reduced to a civil infraction with a fine of $100. Senate Bill 1801 and House Bill 2929 were drawn up in an attempt to legalize and tax the marijuana industry but did not pass into law. Legislation to legalize the medical use of weed is still pending.

Minnesota: Possessing less than 42.5 grams of pot is a misdemeanor that carries a fine up to $200 maximum. Medical usage of weed is not legalized in this state.

Mississippi: Possession of up to 30 grams of weed is a misdemeanor offense with a fine of up to $250. The use of medical marijuana has not been legalized.

Nebraska: Possessing one ounce or less of weed is considered a civil infraction with an imposed fine of $300. The state has now laws allowing the use of medical marijuana.

Nevada: Marijuana possession up to one ounce is considered a misdemeanor and offenders are subject to a fine up to $1,000 for first and second offenses. Legalization of medical marijuana was enacted in 2001.

New York: New York has decriminalized the possession of up to 25 grams of marijuana. The maximum penalty for the first offense is a $100 fine. For the second offense, $250. Medical marijuana use has still not been approved but legislation is pending.

North Carolina: Possessing up to one-half ounce of cannabis is a misdemeanor offense. At this time, there is no law allowing for medical use of weed.

Ohio: Possession of no more than 100 grams of weed is a misdemeanor offense with a fine up to $150. Legislation to legalize medical use of marijuana is still pending.

Oregon: Oregon was the first state to decriminalize marijuana back in 1973. Possession of up to one ounce of weed is a civil violation that carries a fine of up to $500-$1000 depending on county. Patients with a doctor’s prescription are allowed to cultivate, possess and use marijuana under Senate Bill 1085.

Rhode Island: The governor passed the legislation in June 2012 to reduce the penalty for marijuana possession to a civil infraction with a maximum fine of $150.

New Jersey may be the 16th state to decriminalize marijuana. The General Assembly approved the measure (AB 1465) that will reduce the penalty for possessing up to one-half ounce of weed from a $1,000 fine with up to six months in jail to a civil infraction with no criminal record and no jail time.

It is awaiting approval by the state Senate. However, the governor of New Jersey has already stated that he will veto the bill even if it passes.  Yet, Gov. Chris Christie has openly stated the "war on drugs" is a complete failure.

Though only a fraction of the states have taken steps to "legalize" marijuana, there are still many states that refuse to lessen the punishment for such offenses. Some are even pushing to increase the punishment for anyone found in possession of marijuana.

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Anonymous said...

I believe some basic facts are wrong in this article.

Anonymous said...

Troll much?

How about pointing out which facts you think are wrong?

That would be a good starting point anyways, you could perhaps then follow it up by providing the correct facts to replace those wrong ones, no?

As far as I can see the only thing wrong with this article is the fact that the Federal Government won't respect any of the local and state legislation touched on by it.

As long as the Fed's keep pushing the war of drugs none of this really matters as far too many People will continue to suffer at the hands of tyranny.

bleeble orp said...

what about michigan?

Anonymous said...

Is not the difference between a "civil" and "criminal" offense only a matter of degree, a lesser "charge" in the daily business of the Commercial, I mean, Judicial System?

Are not the "States" merely subsidiaries of the federal corporation of the United States, sureties for the "national" (corporate) debt (from 1789/1859)?

Are not the citizens (both state and federal) sureties for the states as well as the United States (from 1929[1933])?

Will not this remain unchanged for those who do not individually collapse their Public Trust?

Do you have any idea wtf I'm talking about?

Anonymous said...

Prohibition will soon be overtaken by necessity ;-)


Lowenstein said...

Now aren't you glad that you live in the land of freedom where the government protects you from dangerous choices like drugs.

Why yes Anonymous the States are indeed subsidiaries of the federal corporation, thank you Mr. Lincoln. This remains so for all citizens as you can't escape a government that does not abide by the law. So collapse your Public trust as often as you wish, there is still a "guantanamo bay" for you.

But why not teach your fellow readers all about your failed approach?

Anonymous said...

Wow. What great news for those of us living in "The Land of the Free". Quite frankly, I could care less about the "permission" given to me or not, concerning what I consider a God-given Blessing. By now, the whole world knows this "War on Drugs" is, was, and will ALWAYS be a power-grabbing, money making, divisive, EVIL farce. So many hundreds of thousands of citizens have had their lives destroyed by the ARREST of using Marijuana. How so? you may ask. Well, try to get a job that requires security clearances, background checks, bondability, insurability, law-enforcement, or any other employment deemed "sensitive nature". I am 54. I am a Vet. I have done my duty as an American citizen. I deserve to do as I please as long as it hurts no one including myself. So, here I am big, bad, Feds. I am ready for you. Either come and get me, or shut the fuck up.

Anonymous said...

Check out the congressional record circa 1996...federal possession laws were repealed. Yet, they are still prosecuted, because of the ignorance of the public. Let's have some more reality TV.

Anonymous said...

Drug Companies have bought/leased large tracts of land awaiting the evntual legalization of cannabis. If you are familiar with asthmatics medication dispensers you are looking at the future of cannabis dispensers of drug companies.
A small push cannister that delivers a precise
aerrated dose of THC. Will fit in the palm of your hand and each push dispenses precise amts.

Robert said...

Marijuana is not harmless.

Anonymous said...

L the fuck ol

Anonymous said...

Legalizing would be the smartest more people would get along more

Anonymous said...

Thanks to who ever approves it

Kevin Johnson said...

Mississippi decriminalized weed on the state level, but not the local level. Counties, towns, and municipalities have their own laws controlling marijuana and they are quite Draconian. Simple possession fines, if caught by local authorities, can amount to as much as $20,000, six to 12 months in jail and driver's license suspension. Paraphernalia, such as a baggie, pipe, papers, or a bong will automatically carry a $500 fine and up to six months in jail, along with suspension of driving privileges. In Mississippi, authorities have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to weed.

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