The legislative push to reduce cannabis possession penalties in Alabama is dead as the state’s powerful Republicans ensured it would not make it to the House floor for a vote, AL.com reports. According to the report, Rep. Paul Beckman demanded the measure get a voice vote, which ensured the bill would not make it to the floor.
The House Judiciary Committee ended up voting 7-5 against the measure.
Rep. Jim Hill, chairman of the committee, said he thought the bill was too far-reaching because possession of an ounce or less would only be a violation even after repeat offenses under the reforms.
“I think we’re probably headed toward either some type of either decriminalization or lesser emphasis being placed on marijuana. But it’s illegal. And to say that no matter how many times you use it, how many times it’s personal use, it never rises to the level of a misdemeanor, I just think that’s a mistake.” – Hill, during the committee hearing, via AL.com
The bill’s sponsor, Democratic Rep. Patricia Todd, told the Associated Press he was “sad” about the bill’s demise.
“But it’s an election year. And a lot of people who voted no told me to my face that they were going to vote yes. And I think the roll-call vote scared a lot of people (who) don’t want to look like they’re soft on drugs. But most people sitting there have no concept or understanding of marijuana.” – Todd to the AP, via AL.com
A similar measure introduced by Republican Sen. Dick Brewbaker did pass the Senate Judiciary Committee 6-4. However, even if it passes the Senate, it would need to be approved by the House, which would include moving through their Judiciary Committee – where it is likely dead on arrival.