An Alabama legislative committee approved a bill on Wednesday that would eliminate jail time as a punishment for marijuana possession offenses. The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 6 to 3 to approve the measure, SB149, which will now be considered by the full Senate.
Under the bill, penalties for marijuana possession convictions would be limited to fines and those convicted of such offenses would no longer be subject to incarceration. Cases involving possession of less than two ounces of cannabis would no longer be considered a misdemeanor. Instead, such offenses would be considered a violation punishable by a fine of not more than $250. The measure also allows for such violations to be expunged from the offender’s record after five years provided no further violations, misdemeanors, or felonies are committed during that time.
Possession of two ounces or more of marijuana would be classified as a Class C misdemeanor but still carry only a fine of up to $250 on the first offense. A second offense within five years would also be classified as a misdemeanor but the fine would be raised to up to $500. Third and subsequent offenses would be charged as a felony but still be punishable only by a fine of up to $750.