Frankfort, KY: Democrat Gov. Steve Beshear signed legislation into law last week that seeks to reduce the number of incarcerated nonviolent drug offenders.
The bipartisan measure, House Bill 463, provides treatment-instead-of-incarceration options for defendants found guilty of possessing controlled substances. Supporters of the sentencing reform measure argue that the changes could reap $422 million in gross savings over the next decade.
Specific to marijuana law enforcement, the measure reduces existing penalties regarding the adult possession of up to eight ounces of cannabis from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum of up to 45 days in jail. (Under present law, the offense is punishable by up to one-year in jail.) However, barring extenuating circumstances, most minor marijuana offenders will face probation in lieu of incarceration under the provisions of the new law.
"This overhaul of Kentucky's penal code is the result of a multi-year effort involving members of the executive, legislative and judicial branches," said Gov. Beshear said in a prepared statement. "Over the last three years, we've made headway with aggressive efforts to bring common sense to Kentucky's penal code, and our prison population has dropped each of the past three years. House Bill 463 helps us be tough on crime, while being smart on crime."
For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500, or visit the website of the NORML Legal Committee, Kentucky at: http://www.norml.org/index.cfm?wtm_view=legal&Group_ID=4539.