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Supporters face uphill battle to decriminalize marijuana

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Supporters are continuing to push for Alabama to join states that have decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana, but the state senator behind the bill acknowledged the measure has a bleak outlook in an election-year session.

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday approved Democratic Sen. Bobby Singleton’s bill, which would make possession of less than two ounces of marijuana punishable only by a civil fine.

“What we’re doing is basically trying to just make sure that we are not locking people up on marijuana charges,” Singleton said. An offense would be classified as a violation, a step below a misdemeanor, and carry a fine of up to $250.

However, he acknowledged the outlook for the bill is, “not bright considering it is an election year.”

Twenty-seven states have decriminalized small amounts of marijuana, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and 18 have legalized small amounts of marijuana for adult recreational use.

The Alabama bill would also do away with jail time for possession of more than two ounces of marijuana for personal use— making it a misdemeanor until a person racks up multiple violations. Trafficking laws would still apply. Singleton said it was his intent to only address two ounces or less, and will revert to that if the bill comes to the Senate floor.

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