A bipartisan group of legislators has introduced a bill to decriminalize marijuana possession in small quantities.
The bill would decriminalize possession of 10 grams or less, treating it with fines rather than jail time. First offenders would pay $100, second offenders would pay $200, and repeat offenders thereafter would pay $500 per violation. Current legislation subject offenders to six months in jail, $500, or both.
The bill, sponsored by State Sen. Ron Rice, D-Essex, and Sen. Robert Singer, R-Ocean, would not allow the growth or sales of marijuana.
“The key issues we’re talking about with people getting arrested for having small amounts of marijuana are that we clog up courts, clog up the jails, and have police involved in these things that are not that important,” Singer said. “By decriminalizing, we take an issue and make it a non-issue—and refrain from letting it go into a dark place, which I believe is legalization.”