On Tuesday lawmakers from both houses, the Senate and the House finalized and passed a bill (HB-1383) aimed at decriminalizing low-level cannabis possession offenses and vacating past convictions. Democratic Governor David Ige will not take the final action before the bill takes into effect.
As per the bill (HB-1383), low-level cannabis possessions will now be classified as non-criminal violations instead of criminal misdemeanors. The bill also reduces the penalties, instead of serving jail time of up to 30 days and a fine of $1,000, low-level possessions (up to three grams of cannabis) will now be punishable by a $130 fine.
The bill (HB-1383) also includes a mechanism for the courts to grant an expungement order. All those who have been previously convicted to cannabis possession related offenses involving more than three grams of cannabis possession can now apply for expungement of past convictions. In addition to this, the measure also sets directions for establishing a task force that will review the cannabis policy from time to time and will give recommendations to the legislature by 2021.
Once the bill is signed by the Democratic Governor David Ige, it will take effect and it is expected that it will be signed hopefully by January 11, 2020.
It is important to note that so far District of Columbia and 23 other US States have either already decriminalized or legalized the adult possession and personal use of cannabis.