Monday, February 13, 2006

Legislative panel backs bill to decriminalize marijuana possession

Eye Witness News

BOSTON (AP) - Possession of small amounts of marijuana would no longer be a criminal offense under a bill being debated on Beacon Hill this week.

The measure won the backing of the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Committee today. It would make possession of less than an ounce of marijuana a civil offense punishable by a 250-dollar fine.

Possession of that amount is now considered a criminal offense punishable by up to six months in jail and a 500-dollar fine for the first offense.

Supporters say the goal is to make sure that someone found with a small amount of marijuana doesn't have a criminal record that could make it difficult for them to get into college, obtain student loans and make it harder to find a job.

Critics say it could encourage the use of marijuana by easing some of the social stigma.


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