Alabama is one step closer to reducing the penalties for marijuana possession in Alabama after SB 98 advanced out of the Senate Judiciary Committee 11-0.
The bill, introduced by Bobby Singleton (D – Greensboro) not only reduces penalties for first-time offenders, but it also offers a way to have marijuana convictions expunged after five years, as long as no other arrests happen within that time frame.
The bill would change first-degree possession so that a person commits first-degree possession when they have two ounces or more.
First-degree possession would not be a felony until the third conviction. A first conviction would be a misdemeanor punishable only by a fine up to $250. A second conviction would be a misdemeanor punishable only by a fine up to $500. A third and subsequent convictions would be a Class D felony, the lowest level of felony, punishable only by a fine not to exceed $750.
Second-degree marijuana possession would apply to amounts of less than two ounces. Second-degree possession would be considered a violation only and would be punishable only by a fine of up to $250.
A similar bill, SB 251, stalled last year. It moved out of committee by a 6-4 vote. The 11-0 vote this year shows much stronger support as the bill heads to the Senate floor.
A Medical Marijuana bill, entitled the Care Act, is also up for consideration this year.