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Should pot possession be excluded as a probation, parole violation?

For the last few weeks, our blog has been closely following the actions of the General Assembly. In particular, we’ve been playing close attention to some of the measures that lawmakers have been taking in relation to marijuana.

For instance, we discussed a measure calling for marijuana smoking devices like pipes and bongs to be removed from the state’s criminal law relating to possession of drug paraphernalia in both chambers.

As it turns out, this wasn’t the only pot-related measure to be considered during an exceptionally busy legislative session.

What is this other pot-related measure?

In its original form, House Bill 615, sponsored by Del. David Moon (D-Montgomery), called for the use or possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana to longer be considered a probation or parole violation.

This language was later amended, however, striking references to drug possession and replacing them with more neutral language that essentially declares that no probation or parole violation can be found where a person commits a “nonjailable civil offense.”  

What was the justification for this bill?

According to Moon and other proponents of the bill, it will serve to not only cut costs as nonviolent offenders would not need be reintroduced to the prison system but, more significantly, ensure uniformity in the state’s pot laws.

Were lawmakers receptive to the measure?

Not especially, as it passed the House by a margin of only ten votes. Indeed, many of Moon’s fellow Democrats voted against the measure, arguing, among other things, that it was inconsistent with the aim of probation.

Does HB 615 have a chance of passing?

HB 615 is currently before the Senate, but was also deemed unfavorable in a report by judicial proceedings. As such, its fate remains uncertain.

What do you think about this measure? Does it make sense in light of previous legislative action, or does it send the wrong message about probation and parole?

Stay tuned for updates …

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