D.A. Candidate wants less jail time for first-time drug offenders

First-time marijuana drug offenders currently face up to 12 months in jail.
First-time marijuana drug offenders currently face up to 12 months in jail.
Updated: Oct. 8, 2018 at 9:44 PM CDT
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D.A. race and marijuana prosecution

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -In a controversial tweet by Danny Carr last week, he says “It’s hard to imagine that our limited resources should be devoted to jailing individuals for marijuana possession instead of focusing on serious violent crimes.”

He says since then, he’s been misquoted as saying he would decriminalize marijuana altogether. What he says he really wants is a more creative way to deal with first-time non-violent drug offenders.

“I’m thinking, first time offenders, obviously we have diversionary courts but we probably need to take it a step further and treat them maybe even as a traffic citation or a fine or something. And I’m not saying that’s what I would do, but what I am saying is we have to be more creative,” says Carr.

He says it’s an effort to ease our over-crowded jails. But District Attorney Mike Anderton disagrees with treating marijuana possession like a traffic ticket.

“We prosecute those cases that the legislature designates as criminal offenses. If the legislature passes it, like I said before, if they pass it, we’re going to enforce it, we’re going to do it right and we’re going to follow what the law says,” says Anderton.

But Carr says he does not intend to decriminalize marijuana, just deal with it in a way that would speed up an otherwise lengthy process.

“The law says that a sentence can be jail, it can be probation, it can be a suspended sentence, and/or a fine. That’s what the law says. And a fine is within the purview of the law,” says Carr.

A sentence for a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge is up to 12 months in jail. The law does allow for a fine of up to $6,000, but officials say it would more likely be a couple hundred dollars.

There were plans to push a bill through the last legislative session that would scale back marijuana possession penalties in Alabama. Representative Patricia Todd was a proponent of making the penalty more like a traffic citation, but that law did not pass. The election for district attorney is November 6th.

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