Birmingham City Council discusses decriminalizing marijuana

Decriminalizing marijuana in Birmingham

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - "No one should be incarcerated for a small amount of marijuana,” said Birmingham City Councilor John Hilliard.

But people in Alabama can face jail time for marijuana possession. Under current law, possession of marijuana is a Class A misdemeanor which means up to a year in jail and a $6,000 fine.

Hilliard said college kids are going to jail for small amounts of marijuana. He supports decriminalizing it and heard from college students on why the city council should support that effort.

It was brought up again, at a council committee meeting on Wednesday.

"There are other states around us that are now decriminalizing marijuana and what that is doing is giving them an advantage of recruitment of college students. No one wants to come to a state where he's possibly going to be a criminal by the time you graduate. But you can go to other states and just have to pay a fine or get a citation,” he explained.

There have been two major state-wide efforts to decriminalize marijuana that never made it out of the legislative session. As a city, Birmingham doesn’t have the authority to make those changes, but as a council they can add this to its legislative agenda for the next session.

"Birmingham doesn't have a home rule so we can't make that rule, but what we can do is suggest a resolution or talk to the delegation to help sponsor legislation that would decriminalize marijuana, so it wouldn't be so harsh on our young people from all races in Birmingham."

Just last year, Atlanta’s city council decided unanimously to decriminalize marijuana and the penalty for possession of one ounce or less a $75 fine .

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