A Nebraska lawmaker is pushing for a adjust in the state’s drug laws that he says are outdated, according to a report in the Lincoln Journal Star. Sen. Justin Wayne of Omaha has introduced two bills that would adjust penalties for some drug possession and distribution offenses. At a meeting of the legislature’s Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, Wayne stated present laws have been placing men and women who have been not involved in the distribution of drugs in prison for trafficking and producing overcrowding in state prisons and county jails.
The initially measure, LB89, was introduced by Wayne in January and would minimize penalties for possession of marijuana and possession with intent to provide. Wayne told his colleagues on the committee that the state’s present laws are resulting in defendants getting sentenced unfairly.
“We have arbitrary numbers in the marijuana statutes that presume a particular person is a distributor,” Wayne stated. “Our law requirements to be nuanced mainly because if not … we are prosecuting men and women who just may well have a habit, while illegal, but are not thought of drug suppliers or distributors.”
Below LB89, possession with intent to provide 5 pounds or much less of marijuana would be lowered to a Class lV felony. Quantities higher than 5 pounds would continue to be a Class llA felony, with penalties of up to 20 years in prison.
For straightforward possession charges, far more than one particular pound up to 5 pounds of marijuana would be a Class l misdemeanor. A lot more than 3 ounces to one particular pound would be a Class lll misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of 3 months in jail.
In testimony at the hearing, Lancaster County Public Defender Joe Nigro stated that the War on Drugs was a failure, just like Prohibition prior to it.
“Legalization of marijuana across the nation is inevitable,” Nigro stated. “Use of marijuana runs across racial and socioeconomic lines, but African-Americans are 4 occasions as most likely to be arrested and charged for marijuana offenses.”
ACLU of Nebraska Lawyer Spike Eickholt told the lawmakers that he’s noticed men and women with much less than an ounce of marijuana facing the very same penalties as if they’d been caught smuggling 500 pounds of pot down the highway.
“Prosecutors do charge, and in my opinion overcharge, these types of instances,” stated Eickholt.
The second bill by Wayne, LB652, would make it a Class l misdemeanor to possess a residual or quite modest quantity of a controlled substance, with a punishment of not far more than one particular year in prison, a $1,000 fine, or each.
Wayne stated that residue cannot get everyone higher, but is nonetheless treated as a Class lV felony with a penalty of up to two years in prison and a fine of $10,000.
“Right now there’s no simple distinction and no protection from prosecutors for a person just caught with a pipe that has residue, versus a person caught with actual measurable amounts (of a drug),” Wayne told the committee.
Nigro stated that half of the instances handled by his workplace have been drug instances, 70 % of which have been for possession. Of these, 39 % have been for charges of possessing residue. Altering the law would save the county sources, he stated.
“It would be one particular point if all of this was decreasing drug use and generating our communities safer. It is not,” stated Nigro.