An Arizona bill filed for the 2015 legislative session would eliminate the possibility of arrest and criminal prosecution for low-level cannabis possession in the state.
House Bill 2006 (HB2006) would alter established law enforcement priorities in the state of Arizona if it's passed into law. It was prefiled by State Rep. Mark Cardenas (D-Phoenix) for consideration next year.
The bill would make individuals guilty of possessing up to one ounce of marijuana "subject to a civil penalty of not more than one hundred dollars, except that if the person does not pay the penalty in full within ninety days, the penalty increases to double the original amount."
Furthermore, punishments for possessing greater amounts of marijuana are lessened as well. Possession of between one ounce and two pounds would be changed into a petty offense. The cultivation of up to two pounds of marijuana would be changed to a class 3 misdemeanor. Presently, those offenses are considered felonies in the state of Arizona.
Under HB2006, cultivation of larger quantities of marijuana than two pounds would be reclassified as less serious felonies. Individuals under the age of 18 possessing marijuana under the bill would have to "complete at least ten hours of community restitution" in an approved counseling facility.
Although the passage of HB2006 would not mean an immediate end to the war on marijuana, it is still a great step in the right direction. A state like Arizona passing a law to decriminalize simple possession could be a game changer. It may lead to further measures to relax marijuana laws in the state, and could start the trend of more red states embracing the cannabis revolution.
Activists should embrace any opportunity that they have to make it more difficult for people to be locked in cages for the non-violent non-crime of marijuana possession. Full-blown legalization is on its way whether the prohibitionists like it or not. Measures like HB2006 can help grease the wheels on our way toward that inevitable goal!
HOW TO SUPPORT THIS BILL
If you live in the state of Arizona, contact your state legislators immediately. It is important for you to politely urge them to co-sponsor this important bill. There is a similar measure, HB2007, that was introduced in AZ this year as well. Take action to support that bill HERE.
If you live in different state, contact your state legislators and urge them to introduce a supporting bill to HB2006 such as our P.E.A.C.E (Preventing Excessive Allocations for Cannabis Enforcement) Act.