Under a new bill unanimously passed by a House panel, criminal penalties for marijuana possession in Oklahoma would be reduced significantly. Although, amid the national attention surrounding marijuana legalization bills proposed in numerous states, Oklahoma’s House Bill 1835 may seem like a small step, it could potentially affect hundreds of lives. A felony conviction can …
Under a new bill unanimously passed by a House panel, criminal penalties for marijuana possession in Oklahoma would be reduced significantly. Although, amid the national attention surrounding marijuana legalization bills proposed in numerous states, Oklahoma’s House Bill 1835 may seem like a small step, it could potentially affect hundreds of lives. A felony conviction can have a long-term impact on an individual’s life, and when such a serious penalty is attached to such crimes as possessing a small amount of marijuana, the consequences can be unjustly devastating. As Stillwater Democratic Rep. Cory Williams says, many of those convicted of possessing marijuana are young and don’t realize they could face penalties for a felony if they are convicted a second time. If you have been arrested for a criminal offense in Oklahoma like marijuana possession, consult our knowledgeable defense lawyers at Oklahoma Legal Center for legal help.
Penalties for Marijuana Possession in Oklahoma
The House Public Safety Committee voted 14-0 on February 27 for the bill, which would render first and second offenses of marijuana possession in Oklahoma a misdemeanor. Under Oklahoma’s current law, marijuana possession of any amount – except for sale or distribution – is a misdemeanor that carries a penalty of up to one year in jail for the first offense. A second or subsequent offense, however, is considered a felony punishable by between two and ten years in prison. With the passing of House Bill 1835, marijuana would not be legalized or even decriminalized, but would effectively be removed from the list of substances for which a second or subsequent possession offense is considered a felony. Under HB 1835, cultivation or distribution charges would remain a felony in Oklahoma, punishable by two years to life in prison.
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While Williams says he would have preferred to make all marijuana possession offenses in the state misdemeanors, he knew that such a proposal was not likely to be supported by the committee. According to Williams, it makes little sense to imprison someone or burden them with a felony conviction for simply possessing a drug that is legal in some states. Another pending bill, SB 914, would reduce the penalty for possession of up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana in Oklahoma to a maximum of ten days in jail and a fine of $200. At the same time that the House panel approved the marijuana possession bill, an Oklahoma Senate committee denied a measure that would have allowed patients with serious illnesses to privately possess up to eight ounces of medical marijuana and grow up to 12 plants in their homes. If you have been charged with possession of marijuana in Oklahoma, contact our qualified criminal defense lawyers at Oklahoma Legal Center to discuss your possible defense options.