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Kansas and Georgia Reconsider Marijuana Penalties

Two states with draconian laws governing simple marijuana possession are considering reducing penalties.

The Kansas Senate voted this week 38-1 to downgrade simple possession from a Class A to a Class B misdemeanor.

Currently any amount can result in up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine for the first offense. A second or subsequent possession arrest in Kansas is currently a felony and can result in a sentence of up to a minimum of 10 months in prison and a $100,000 fine.

The bill, HB 2049, removed the felony level for additional offenses. It must still be passed in the House.

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has offered no opinion on the measure. Brownback has been an opponent of marijuana reform in the past. But the overwhelming bi-partisan support for the reduction in penalties should send a strong message.

Georgia currently treats possession of more than 1 ounce of marijuana as a felony. Conviction can result in a mandatory minimum of 1 year in prison. The maximum sentence is 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

State Senator Harold Jones, a former prosecutor, has introduced a bill to downgrade possession of any amount of cannabis to a misdemeanor.

This comes as a flight of marijuana related bills have been introduced in Georgia.

The state passed a law allowing CBD oil to be used by patients but failed to regulate any production in the state. That led one lawmaker to take an unusual step.

State Representative Allen Peake, a Republican from Macon, has been purchasing CBD oils in other states and delivering it to severely ill children in Georgia.

Peake has introduced a bill to allow medical marijuana cultivation.

The steps toward lowering penalties in Kansas and Georgia are not as profound as full legalization or even decriminalization. Yet having some of the strictest possession laws in the country shift adds to the overall momentum behind national cannabis reform.