Oregon Legislature Passes Bill to Defelonize Possession of Ecstasy, Heroin, Cocaine and Other Drugs

Legislation to defelonize the personal possession of several drugs has been passed through Oregon’s full legislature and sent to Governor Kate Brown for consideration.

The proposed law, House Bill 2355, “Reduces punishment for possession of certain controlled substances [including ecstasy, heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine] from felony to misdemeanor”. Possession would remain a felony if the defendant possesses a useable quantity of a controlled substance and one of four factors are in play: “1) The defendant has a prior felony conviction of any kind; 2) The defendant has two or more prior convictions for possessing a useable quantity of a controlled substance; 3) The offense is a commercial drug offense; or 4) The defendant possess more than specificed amount”.

The legislation also directs the Criminal Justice Commission to “study effect of reduction in possession penalties on criminal justice system, rates of recidivism and composition of convicted offenders”, and “Reduces maximum length of Class A misdemeanor offense to 364 days”, Under current law, possessing certain drugs can result in imprisonment of up to 10 years.

Read moreOregon Legislature Passes Bill to Defelonize Possession of Ecstasy, Heroin, Cocaine and Other Drugs

Oregon Police Call for Drug Defelonization

DefelonizationIn a press release sent Monday the Oregon Association of Police Chiefs and the Oregon State Sheriff’s Association have jointly called for the personal possession of all drugs to be defelonized. This would mean that if a person is in possession of an illegal substance, as long as it’s not for distribution purposes, it would no longer be a felony charge, instead being reduced to a misdemeanor, a much lower penalty that carries a maximum prison sentence of one year, compared to a maximum sentence of 10 years.

The two organizations are calling for this change in part because felony drug charges “include unintended and collateral consequences including barriers to housing and employment and a disparate impact on minority communities.” They say that elected officials and prosecutors should craft “a more thoughtful approach to drug possession when it is the only crime committed”.

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Bill to Defelonize Drug Possession Passed Into law in Maine

MaineLD 1554, a proposal to defelonize the personal possession of drugs such as cocaine and heroin, has been passed into law in Maine. The measure has become law without the signature of Governor Paul LePage.

Under the proposed law, the personal possession of small amounts of drugs such as cocaine, heroin, meth and oxycodone would no longer carry with it a potential felony charge, but instead would be punishable by a much less severe misdemeanor. The vote for the bill in the House of Representatives was 132 to 17, while support in the Senate was unanimous, 35 to 0. It was introduced by Republican Senator Kimberley Rosen, with five bipartisan cosponsors.

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Connecticut Governor Signs Drug Sentencing Reform Bill

Governor Dannel Malloy signing House Bill 7104 into law.
Governor Dannel Malloy signing House Bill 7104 into law.

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy has signed his Second Chance Society bill into law, significantly reforming the state’s drug laws.

The new law, in addition to other changes, removes felony charges for the first-time, personal possession of illegal substances, reducing the offense to a misdemeanor. This would reduce the maximum jail sentence to one year, down from seven years.

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Connecticut Legislature Votes to Defelonize Personal Drug Possession, Governor to Sign Measure Into Law

By Associated Press

connConnecticut’s drug laws will go from some of the most draconian in the country to some of the most lenient this fall when most drug possession crimes are reduced from felonies to misdemeanors, a change that’s increasingly finding common ground between Democrats and Republicans.

Possession of small amounts of hard drugs including heroin, cocaine and crack cocaine — crimes that currently could land an offender in prison for up to seven years for a first offense — would be dialed back to a misdemeanor. And a mandatory two-year prison term for possessing drugs within 1,500 feet of a school — a law decried by civil liberties advocates as among the worst in the country — will be eliminated.

Read moreConnecticut Legislature Votes to Defelonize Personal Drug Possession, Governor to Sign Measure Into Law

Drug Defelonization Bill Approved by Connecticut’s Full Senate

connA bill to remove felony charges for personal drug possession, reducing it to a misdemeanor, has been passed by Connecticut’s full Senate with a 22 to 14 vote, according to the Associated Press.

The measure, which is part of Governor Dannel Malloy’s Second Chance Society proposal, received wide bipartisan support, including being supported by Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, and House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, both Republicans.

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Bill to Defelonize Personal Drug Possession Filed in U.S. Congress

Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN).
Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN).

Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN) has filed House Resolution 2153, a proposal to make some federal drug crimes a misdemeanor rather than a felony, while simultaneously eliminating the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine.

HR 2153, To “reclassify certain low-level felonies as misdemeanors, to eliminate the increased penalties for cocaine offenses where the cocaine involved is cocaine base, to reinvest in our communities, and for other purposes”, has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee, the House Energy Committee, and the House Education and Workforce Committee.

Read moreBill to Defelonize Personal Drug Possession Filed in U.S. Congress

Bill to Defelonize Drug Possession Filed in Utah, Poll Shows Voter Support at 58%

Legislation to defelonize the personal possession of illegal substances has been filed in Utah’s House of Representatives. New polling released today shows a strong majority of Utah voters support the move.utah

House Bill 348 would reduce the penalty for the personal possession of illegal substances from a felony, to a class A misdemeanor. New polling conducted by Public Policy Polling, and commissioned by the American Civil Liberties Union, shows that 58% of Utah voters support reducing the penalty for drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor, with just 34% opposed.

Read moreBill to Defelonize Drug Possession Filed in Utah, Poll Shows Voter Support at 58%

Proposal to Defelonize Personal Drug Possession Filed in Washington State, Receives Public Hearing Date

State Representativesensiblewashington Sherry Appleton has filed House Bill 1024, a proposal to remove felony charges for the personal possession of illegal substances, reducing the charge to a simple (non-gross) misdemeanor. According to an official state fiscal note on defelonizing personal drug possession, the proposal would save the state millions of dollars every year, would free up prison space and would prevent over 9,000 drug-related felonies from occurring each year (charges involving distribution or manufacturing drugs, and any charge involving minors, would remain unaltered).

Defelonizing personal drug possession in Washington State is supported by Law Enforcement Against Prohibition – a coalition of thousands of current and former law enforcement professionals – as well as Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Washington CURE and the ACLU of Washington. The proposal was introduced by the nonprofit organization Sensible Washington.

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Drug Sentencing Reform Bill to Be Filed in Washington State

Legislation to remove felony charges for the personal possession of illegal substances will be prefiled in the Washington State Housesensiblewashington of Representatives next month by Rep. Sherry Appleton (D, 23rd District), according to the nonprofit organization Sensible Washington. The proposal, which will be identical to House Bill 2116 from the 2014 session, would defelonize personal drug possession, reducing the penalty from a felony, to a misdemeanor.

“Defelonizing personal drug possession is a smart, pragmatic approach to reducing the harms associated with the drug war”, says Rep. Jessyn Farrell (D, 46th District), who will cosponsor the bill. “The move would reduce incarceration, save the state millions of dollars, and prevent thousands of individuals from receiving a permanent and costly felony record.”

Read moreDrug Sentencing Reform Bill to Be Filed in Washington State