Members of the Senate Judiciary C Committee have advanced legislation to remove the threat of jail time for low-level marijuana possession offenses.

House Bill 652 reduces the penalty for the possession of up to 14 grams of marijuana for first-time as well as subsequent offenses to a $100 fine only. While there would be no possibility of jail time under the bill, these offenses would still be classified as misdemeanors.

Committee members approved HB 652 with a 3 to 2 vote, sending it to the Senate floor next. If approved on the Senate floor without amendments, the measure will then head to the governor’s desk. The bill was already approved by the House of Representatives earlier this month.

Separate legislation that was also approved by the House last month, House Bill 391, is scheduled for a Senate floor debate this afternoon. This measure would repeal the prohibition on physicians recommending medical marijuana for “inhalation” and in “raw or crude” form (medical cannabis flower). It also allows dispensaries to dispense two and a half ounces of marijuana per 14 day period. Lawmakers are additionally scheduled to take up a separate proposal on the Senate floor today to levy a tax on these products.

Legislation to legalize and regulate marijuana for all adults in the state was removed from consideration by the sponsor last week, effectively killing it. However, members of the House did approve a measure requesting “a study of the effects of legalizing recreational cannabis usage” on Monday, sending it on to the Senate for further consideration.


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