When you think of states with a progressive track record on marijuana, Alabama probably doesn't come to mind. But that could change.
A bipartisan pair of politicians in Alabama have introduced a bill that would reduce the penalties for marijuana possession in the state. Under current law, an arrest for marijuana possession is considered a Class A misdemeanor that is punishable with a $6,000 and/or a one-year jail sentence. A second offense is a Class C felony that comes with a one to fifteen year jail sentence and a $15,000 fine.
The new bill would create a third tier for possession charges. Any charge for possession of less than one ounce of marijuana would result in a "violation" that would result in only a $250 fine for both the first and second offenses. A third offense would raise the fine up to $500.
Democrat Patricia Todd, one of the bill's co-sponsors, says she hasn't spoken to a single person who opposes the bill. And Republican Dick Brewbaker, the other co-sponsor, says he also hasn't spoken to someone who thinks giving felonies to young people for marijuana is a good idea.
The bill will now be considered by the judiciary committee's of Alabama's House and Senate. The chair of the state's senate committee notes that many prosecutors already opt for more lenient punishments for marijuana possession, which helps give support for the bill since the current law is already viewed as archaic. But he says he still expects there to be opposition that could stop it from getting out of committee.