Two bills aiming to reduce penalties in Alabama for marijuana possession were proposed, and one, SB51, received the necessary votes in the Senate Judiciary Committee. This bill hopes to increase the amount of marijuana requiring a drug trafficking conviction from 2.2 pounds to 10 pounds.
Senator Dick Brewbaker proposed SB51, according to Alabama Today. HB272, introduced by Representative Patricia Todd, sought to decriminalize marijuana possession by reducing penalties to violations and fines. HB272 did not receive enough votes to move forward.
Todd said, “I’m sad, but it’s an election year. And a lot of people who voted no told me to my face that they were going to vote yes. And I think the roll-call vote scared a lot of people (who) don’t want to look like they’re soft on drugs. But most people sitting there have no concept or understanding of marijuana.”
Representative Jim Hill voted against HB272 saying it went too far.
Hill said, “I think we’re probably headed toward either some type of either decriminalization or lesser emphasis being placed on marijuana, but it’s illegal. And to say that no matter how many times you use it, how many times it’s personal use, it never rises to the level of a misdemeanor, I just think that’s a mistake.”
Regarding SB51, Brewbaker said, “Nobody in here wants to hang felonies or drug conviction misdemeanors on a bunch of college kids. We’re arresting more people for marijuana than opioids.”
SB51 will move to the Senate floor and also requires passage by the Alabama House before it can become law. Senator Phil Williams indicates that he will filibuster SB51 when it reaches the Senate floor.