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

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

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%

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.”

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Utah Criminal and Juvenile Justice Commission Endorses Defelonizing Drug Possession

Utah’s Criminal and Juvenile Justice Commission has utahunveiled a package of recommendations to control prison growth, including a proposal to make the personal possession of illegal substances a misdemeanor rather than a felony.

According to the report, Utah’s prison population is projected to grow by 37% over the next two 20 years, at a cost of over half a billion dollars of taxpayer money. Among the recommendations the Commission makes in order to deal with this growth, is to defelonize the first-time personal possession of drugs.

Read moreUtah Criminal and Juvenile Justice Commission Endorses Defelonizing Drug Possession

California Initiative to Defelonize Drug Possession Approved Handily by Voters

California voters have handily47 approved Proposition 47, the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act, passing it with 57% of the vote. The initiative will remove felony charges for the personal possession of illegal substances, reducing the offense to a misdemeanor.

The initiative, which won’t apply to those with a history of violent crimes, will also defelonize other nonviolent offenses such as petty theft and check fraud. The proposal was put forth by San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon and San Diego Police Chief William Landsdowne.

Read moreCalifornia Initiative to Defelonize Drug Possession Approved Handily by Voters

Initiative to Defelonize Drug Possession in California Leading 62% to 25% in Newest Poll

New polling released Tuesday by the47 Public Policy Institute of California has found that Proposition 47, an initiative to defelonize certain nonviolent crimes including personal drug possession, is currently favored by 62% of voters in the state, with just 25% opposed. The proposal will be voted on this November.

Proposition 47, titled the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act, would remove felony charges for the personal possession of illegal substances, reducing the sentence to a misdemeanor (unless the person has a history of violent crimes). It would also defelonize other nonviolent offenses including petty theft and check fraud.

Read moreInitiative to Defelonize Drug Possession in California Leading 62% to 25% in Newest Poll

Chicago Mayor Proposes Decriminalizing Cannabis, Defelonizing Drug Possession in Illinois

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel called on lawmakers Tuesday to reform the state’s drug policies, including decriminalizing cannabis possession.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

“Mayor Emanuel today called on the Illinois State Legislature to reform sentencing laws for low-level drug offenses, keeping non-violent offenders from a lifetime in the criminal justice system, saving taxpayer dollars, and allowing police to focus on more serious crimes”, the Mayor’s office said in a press release. “The Mayor’s proposal calls for a new state law that would reduce possession of one gram or less of any controlled substance in Illinois from a Class Four Felony to a Class A Misdemeanor. The proposal would also expand Chicago’s municipal ordinance, passed in 2012, making possession of 15 grams or less of cannabis a ticketable offense statewide”

Read moreChicago Mayor Proposes Decriminalizing Cannabis, Defelonizing Drug Possession in Illinois