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AL House, Senate Debating Marijuana Reform

Alabama State House

Alabama lawmakers are considering a bill that would weed out less serious drug offenders.

Democratic Representative Patricia Todd and Republican Senator Dick Brewbaker are sponsoring a bill that would reclassify possession of less than ounce of marijuana as a civil offense. The bill has passed through the Senate and House Judiciary Committees and will now move to the Senate floor.

Alabama Appleseed is a nonprofit that vows to achieve justice for all Alabamians. The organization says they’re pushing for drugs -- and marijuana specifically -- to be viewed through what they call a “public safety lens”. Frank Knaack is Alabama Appleseed’s Executive Director. He says Alabama’s marijuana laws need some work.

“We are not behind everybody, but we do have some of the harshest marijuana drug laws in the country right now. And we are spending an obscene amount of money trying to win a war on marijuana, a war that we’ve now been fighting for over four decades and have failed to accomplish any meaningful shift. Marijuana is just as cheap and available as it’s always been.”

Knaack estimates the state spends about $13 million every year on that war. He also says it has been “absolutely discriminatory” against people of color and individuals with lower incomes.

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