Arizona Lawmakers Propose Changing Penalty for Pot Possession From Felony to Simple Fine

Categories: I'm Only a Bill
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Some Democratic lawmakers are proposing that marijuana possession in Arizona should no longer be a felony.

It's not legalization, but it is decriminalization -- 13 Democrats have teamed up to offer a bill that proposes the penalty for possessing less than an ounce of pot be a "civil penalty" of $100 or less.

See also:
-Marijuana Policy Project Plans Arizona Legalization Measure for 2016

Under House Bill 2474, possession of less than an ounce of marijuana would be more like a traffic ticket instead of a felony conviction that goes on someone's record for life.

More than a dozen other states already have similar decriminalization laws, according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

Under this proposal, possessing between an ounce and two pounds would be a petty offense. Right now, that's a felony punishable by a maximum of two years in prison for a first-time offender.

Possessing more than two pounds, but not possessing it "for sale," would be a mid-level misdemeanor, which comes with up to 30 days in jail.

The bill also would make growing less than two pounds a misdemeanor instead of a felony and would make growing more than two pounds a low-level felony.

Assistant House Minority Leader Ruben Gallego, a Phoenix Democrat and co-sponsor of the bill, announced before the legislative session started that he was working on a legalization bill that would "regulate and tax marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol."

Gallego tells New Times that he's still planning on submitting that bill and plans to have it in by the end of the week.

Keep in mind that both chambers of the Legislature have Republican majorities so the passage of either bills certainly wouldn't be easy.

However, two of the three polls done on the topic in the past year show a majority of Arizonans support marijuana legalization. Plus, Arizona voters approved the state's medical-marijuana law in 2010.

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Follow Matthew Hendley on Twitter at @MatthewHendley.


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141 comments
Beth Eagan
Beth Eagan

Yes! Old laws need a fresh look. Keeping it illegal doesn't stop it, it empowers the drug trafficking AZ has had decades long battles with.

elmergantry71
elmergantry71

We will have legalization. However, it will be with the politicians kicking and screaming, and whining to their money bag masters. We will have legalization by citizen initiative.

elmergantry71
elmergantry71

They are hoping to pre-empt the legalization campaign coming in two years.

Ben Stevens
Ben Stevens

No, there pretty "right" for being so far west.

Talon Nightshade
Talon Nightshade

Our justice system is overrun. Prohibition puts money in criminals and organized crimes pockets, as well as privatized prisons. None of this has anything to do with truth, freedom, or justice. We are still putting people in prison based on propaganda and lies created by big business to prevent cheap clean manufacturing in the US from a century ago. Time to end this destructive policy!

Bryan Buell
Bryan Buell

sure what the hell but you hit me I am fully insured and will screw you up one wall and down the other

Juan Roque
Juan Roque

Yes! Our Superior Court is clogged with these stupid "felony" cases that end up in TASC anyway. Waste of taxpayer money.

Dennis Connor
Dennis Connor

I agree Nidia, a group of teenage boys find a case of scotch or a bag of pot...which do you think will lead them into more trouble?

Sabz Kaotik
Sabz Kaotik

it would be nice, but..not a chance in hell!

Mikey Lee
Mikey Lee

Just legalize it and regulate it. Take the money from the drug dealers and bring some state tax income.

Randy Roberts
Randy Roberts

they get oo much money from prisons for that to work.... in a perfect world though...

Patricia Estrada
Patricia Estrada

So if it is a felony on a record from the past will that still be a felony????

Jeff Galica
Jeff Galica

Yes, it will. Believe it or not, it is about money. It won't happen this year, but soon.

Jefferson Greyeyes
Jefferson Greyeyes

Arizona couldn't lead it self out of a sand storm,lol to many christian ignorance and pride keeps all of Arizona behind the times.

Peggy Plews
Peggy Plews

why, what in the world will we do with the new supermax prison if we decriminalize weed? If we build it, someone must go!

David Howard
David Howard

Read the comment stream.... some are conscious and some are blatantly ignorant. Funny how the ones against Cannabis are the ignorant ones

David Howard
David Howard

We have some scandalous politicians and sheriff here n AZ other than that Yeah

dennis20
dennis20 topcommenter

While this approach is better than a poke in the eye, we should support Galllego's bill if we are serious about ridding the State of Cartels. 

Legalizing, taxing and regulating sales like Colorado is doing will help our economy and stop the foolish and cruel arrests. 

Marty Ercoline
Marty Ercoline

yes. we are wasting our good money and time casing down people who like this herb. Let them like it. Its NOT as harmful as the Govt wants you to believe.

Tai Ōkami
Tai Ōkami

Yea they need to make it legal for any one 21 and older . . .

Ra Ra
Ra Ra

Athena, not all potheads are troublemakers! Most just stay home on the couch and smoke and get the munchies! Alcoholics are the real troublemakers and that is legal! It's ridiculous!

Ra Ra
Ra Ra

Yes please hopefully.

Athena Tyrrell
Athena Tyrrell

I don't think it is a good idea. Pot heads are troublemakers, and if they like to break the law now, I can almost guarantee they break the law in something else too.

Ron Lee
Ron Lee

it will be one of the last of many...

James Tomczak
James Tomczak

No because the private prison complex is too strong.they would have no one to throw in prison if ganja was decriminalized

Ten Bears
Ten Bears

point it used to be illegal to spit point pot is natural God did intend it to be found not restricted the black widow kills more people than anyone ever has on pot why? because they drive like an old lady cautiously!

Lucia Perry
Lucia Perry

Yes. And let people out of prison. Spend the money on addiction.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

Felony DUI would still exist. You can get felony DUI with marijuana. Possession would not be a felony.

elmergantry71
elmergantry71

Yes. As my ex-wife once observed, "But Mom, lots of stuff is a felony!" Those of us who were screwed will remain screwed, for life.

FreeTheWeed
FreeTheWeed

Colorado didn't "legalize" pot. All the felony and misdemeanor crimes are still in statute.

Individuals still get arrested and prosecuted for pot in Colorado.

elmergantry71
elmergantry71

G-i-l-l-t-y as charged, I AM a trouble maker and proud of it.

FreeTheWeed
FreeTheWeed

So you'll sacrifice other people's rights to obtain that same right for yourself?

How fucking special.

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