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Singleton’s cannabis decriminalization bill moves to Senate for vote

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Senator Bobby Singleton’s bill to decriminalize marijuana in Alabama. It is now set to head to the Senate for a vote. This comes after last year’s legislative session, where the bill died by two votes. For nearly four years, Singleton has advocated for a bill that would introduce reduced criminal penalties for marijuana possession. This, in part, would address the problem of overcrowded prisons and penitentiaries throughout the state. Singleton has spoken with many citizens and organizations alike who advocated for the bill to be back on the agenda this year. This and the passage of medical marijuana makes Singleton hopeful of its passage. “We brought the bill back with the understanding that now that the state of Alabama has passed medical marijuana…so how we look at marijuana and how people are being prosecuted by it. I feel that we need to decriminalize marijuana up to a certain level,” Singleton said of the bill. Singleton believes that the justice system has left many citizens marred with criminal records for possession of marijuana, but the bill would offer a path to expungement for possession charges. “So now what we’re able to do is if that scenario happens again then that person is able to file a petition before the court with the same judge that rendered the null and void on the senate and allow them to be able to expunge the record for the person to whom is being charged with it,” said Singleton. The bill is now set to go to the Senate, however Singleton remains pragmatic. The outcome of the bill is largely uncertain, with Singleton saying the bill’s future is “not bright considering it is an election year.” Trafficking laws would still apply, despite the push for decriminalization in small amounts. That is what Singleton said would revert to when the bill comes to the Senate floor: his intent to address possession in the amounts of two ounces or less.