Featured News 2016 Marijuana Decriminalization Defined

Marijuana Decriminalization Defined

Millions of marijuana advocates claim that the current system that classifies marijuana as illegal is outdated, unscientific and deeply flawed. In 1970, the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) classified marijuana as a Schedule I substance, which placed it in the category of drugs with the "highest potential for abuse" and "no accepted medical use."

Since the CSA was enacted, there has been a growing body of research about marijuana that shows that it does help various medical conditions, including: AIDS or HIV, glaucoma, cancer, Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy, neurological pain, seizure disorders, anxiety, and nausea.

In recent years, medical experts, medical establishments and state legislatures have recognized the benefits of marijuana for medical purposes, as well as the fact that it's not nearly as harmful of a substance as was once thought. To date, 21 states have passed legislation that "decriminalized" certain marijuana possession offenses and more are expected to follow.

What does 'decriminalization' mean?

Decriminalization means that if a person is caught with a small amount of marijuana for personal consumption, they will not be arrested and they will not receive a criminal record. Generally, the states that have decided to decriminalize marijuana treat it like a traffic violation.

Some of the decriminalization states, include:

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Vermont

Even though these states have decriminalized a small amount of marijuana for personal consumption, most of them impose penalties for larger amounts of pot. For example, in California, the penalty for possessing 28.5 grams (about one ounce) of marijuana is an infraction, punishable by a maximum fine of $100. However, possessing more than 28.5 grams is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months in jail and up to a $500 fine.

On the other hand, Colorado has some of the most lenient laws regarding marijuana. In Colorado, possessing one ounce or less is not a crime at all, and possessing one to two ounces is a petty offense, punishable by no more than a $100 fine.

If you are facing marijuana-related charges in your state, contact a criminal defense lawyer today!

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