Santana introduces legislation to reduce sentences for marijuana crimes

LANSING. – Sen. Sylvia Santana (D-Detroit) has taken the lead on introducing bipartisan legislation to offer second chances to people imprisoned for certain marijuana-related offenses prior to Michigan’s legalization of recreational marijuana.

The bill package, Senate Bills 262-265, also known as the “Marihuana Violation Sentence Reduction Act,” would reduce prison, parole or probation sentences of people convicted of marijuana possession.

“After the passage of Proposal 1, it’s time we rethink drug sentencing laws in Michigan, so let’s start with marijuana offenses, since those are no longer considered crimes under current law,” Sen. Santana said.

In order for a reduction to be considered, those who had been convicted would have to meet specific criteria, including not having violated parole, not having a pending felony charge, and having paid their restitution fees.

The bill would also end criminal sentencing for marijuana possession.

“The times have changed, and it’s time our laws do too,” Sen. Santana said. “There is no reason we should keep these non-violent offenders locked up, especially if they wouldn’t be arrested and imprisoned for the same thing now.”

Under current law, people charged with non-violent offenses related to marijuana possession prior to the 2018 referendum are still serving sentences. Studies have shown that states are spending millions of dollars to imprison these people — who are also overwhelmingly people of color — making this both an economic and racial justice issue.

The bills have been referred to the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee.

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