MPP Model Bill to Impose a Civil Fine on Simple Marijuana Possession
[NOTE: The procedure will probably need to be tailored to an individual state.]
Be it enacted by the people of the state of ________:
SECTION 1. Title. Sections 1 through 4 of this act shall be known as “An Act Establishing A Sensible State Marijuana Policy.”
SECTION 2. (a) Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, possession of one ounce or less of marijuana shall only be a civil offense, subjecting an offender who is eighteen years of age or older to a civil penalty of one hundred dollars and forfeiture of the marijuana, but not to any other form of criminal or civil punishment or disqualification. Unpaid fines shall double if not paid within ninety (90) days of the offense. An offender under the age of eighteen shall be subject to the same forfeiture of the marijuana, but a civil penalty and fine shall be imposed only if he or she fails to complete a drug awareness program that meets the criteria set forth in section 3. The parents or legal guardian of any offender under the age of eighteen shall be notified of the offense and of available drug awareness programs in accordance with section 4(c). If an offender under the age of eighteen fails within one year of such notice of the offense and available programs to complete a drug awareness program, a civil penalty of up to three hundred and fifty dollars may be imposed pursuant to section 4(c).
(b) Except as specifically provided in sections 2 through 4, neither the state nor any of its political subdivisions or their respective agencies, authorities, or instrumentalities may impose any form of penalty, sanction, restriction, or disqualification on a person for possessing one ounce or less of marijuana or paraphernalia for marijuana use, nor may any penalties or obligations exceeding those outlined in subsection (a) be imposed by the state nor any of its political subdivisions or their respective agencies, authorities, or instrumentalities solely for having cannabinoids or cannabinoid metabolites in the urine, blood, sweat, hair, fingernails, toenails, or other
tissue or fluid of the human body. By way of illustration rather than limitation, neither possession of one ounce or less of marijuana, nor possession of paraphernalia for marijuana use, nor the presence of cannabinoids or cannabinoid metabolites in the urine, blood, sweat, hair, fingernails, toenails, or other tissue or
fluid of the human body may provide a basis to deny a person student financial aid, public housing, or any form of public financial assistance including unemployment benefits, to deny a person the right to operate a motor vehicle, or to disqualify a person from serving as a foster parent or adoptive parent. However, nothing contained herein shall be construed to repeal or modify existing laws, ordinances or bylaws, regulations, personnel practices, or policies concerning the operation of motor vehicles or other actions taken while under the influence of marijuana. Information concerning the offense of possession of one ounce or less of marijuana shall not be recorded in any database of criminal offenders.
(c) As used herein, “possession of one ounce or less of marijuana” includes possession of one ounce or less of marijuana, or any mixture or preparation thereof (including but not limited to five grams or less of hashish), and does not include the weight of other ingredients in marijuana prepared for consumption as food or drink. “Possession of one ounce or less of marijuana” includes the possession of paraphernalia for the ingestion, use, inhalation, preparation, or storage of marijuana for personal use.
(d) Nothing contained herein shall be construed to repeal or modify any law concerning the medical use of marijuana or tetrahydrocannabinol in any other form, such as Marinol, or the possession of more than one ounce of marijuana, or selling, manufacturing, or trafficking in marijuana.
(e) Nothing contained herein shall prohibit a political subdivision of the state from enacting ordinances or bylaws regulating or prohibiting the consumption of marijuana or tetrahydrocannabinol in public places and providing for additional penalties for the public use of marijuana, provided that any such additional penalties are no greater than those related to the public consumption of alcohol.
(f) No violation of this chapter shall be considered a violation of parole or probation.
(g) Any person in possession of an identification card, license, or other form of identification issued by the state or any state, city or town, or any college or university, who fails to produce the same upon request of a police officer who informs the person that he or she has been found in possession of what appears to the officer to be an ounce or less of marijuana, or any person without any such forms of identification who fails or refuses to truthfully provide his or her name, address, and date of birth to a police officer who has informed such person that the officer intends to provide such individual with a citation for possession of an ounce or less of marijuana may be arrested.
SECTION 3. (a) An offender under the age of eighteen is required to complete a drug awareness program within one year of his or her parents or legal guardian being given notice of the offense and available drug awareness programs. Failure of such an offender to complete such a program may be a basis for imposing a civil penalty of up to three hundred and fifty dollars, as authorized by section 2(a).
(b) The drug awareness program must provide at least four hours of classroom instruction or group discussion and 10 hours of community service. In addition to the programs and curricula it must establish and maintain, the [appropriate state youth, health, or education department] or any successor to said department shall develop a compliant drug awareness program. The subject matter of such drug awareness program shall be specific to the use and abuse of marijuana, alcohol, and controlled substances. The [appropriate state youth, health, or education department] shall set fees for the program sufficient to cover all costs of administering the program, which shall not exceed $150. All fees shall be payable by the offender upon entry in the drug awareness program.
SECTION 4. (a) The police department serving each political subdivision of the state and each sheriff’s department shall direct the department’s public safety officer or another appropriate member of the department to function as a liaison with the clerk’s office of the District Court serving the political subdivision. Each police department shall also issue books of non-criminal citation forms to the department’s officers that conform with the provisions of this section.
(b) A copy of the notice delivered to an offender under the age of eighteen shall be mailed or delivered to at least one of that offender’s parents having custody of the offender or, where there is no such person, to that offender’s legal guardian at said parent or legal guardian’s last known address. If an offender under the age of eighteen, or a parent or legal guardian, fails to file with the clerk of the appropriate court a certificate that the offender has completed a drug awareness program in accordance with section 3 within one year of the relevant offense, the clerk shall notify the offender, parent or guardian, and the enforcing person who issued the original notice to the offender of a hearing to show cause why a civil penalty of up to three hundred and fifty dollars should not be imposed. Factors to be considered by the court in weighing cause shall be limited to financial capacity to pay any increase, the offender’s ability to participate in a compliant drug awareness program, the availability of a suitable drug awareness program, and the offender’s willingness to complete such program within a timeframe to be determined by the court.
(c) Fifty percent of the revenue generated from civil penalties imposed under the provisions of this section shall be released to or retained by the city or town where the offense occurred. The remaining fifty percent of the revenue generated from civil penalties imposed under the provisions of this section shall be transmitted to the [appropriate state youth, health, or education department] to fund drug awareness education and substance abuse treatment.
[In addition, the state’s criminal penalties should be amended to be consistent with this statute. For example, any statutes that include criminalization of possession, transportation, purchase, or use of up to one ounce of marijuana; possession, transportation, purchase, or use of marijuana paraphernalia; or maintaining a premises where those activities occur should be amended accordingly.]