The legalization of marijuana is a hot topic in the U.S. As of May 2018, the National Conference of State Legislatures shows that 30 states, as well as the District of Columbia, allow medical marijuana use; nine of those along with the District of Columbia also permit recreational use.
Alabama does not fall under either category, which means that possession, sale and trafficking of marijuana are still illegal in this state. The only thing legal is the use of cannabidiol and products low (below 3 percent) in THC for specific medical conditions.
Recent progress in the law
However, as more people are changing their views on this drug, more efforts have arisen to try to change the law in Alabama. Recently, Alabama state Rep. Patricia Todd introduced House Bill 272 to lessen the legal consequences of possessing one ounce of marijuana or less. The bill did not pass.
On the other hand, Senate Bill 51 by Senator Dick Brewbaker received approval from the Senate Judiciary Committee, though it still needs to go through more voting to become law. This bill increases the trafficking amount from 2.2 pounds to 10, with a focus on not ruining college kids’ lives with convictions.
Until the law changes, however, Alabama citizens and visitors must abide by current legislation regarding marijuana. Penalties for breaking the law can be severe depending on the amount of marijuana, purpose and number of offense. Punishment can include steep fines and jail time. Even just a first-time offense of marijuana possession for personal use can result in up to a $6,000 fine and a year in jail.
Arrests, charges and convictions show up on criminal records and background checks, as well. Any trouble with the law can cause challenges in seeking employment, housing, loans and education. Although “everybody is doing it,” illegally using marijuana is not worth the risk of the criminal consequences. A more effective approach for those who want to use marijuana is to get involved in changing current laws.