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Kentucky (yes, that’s right, Kentucky) reduces marijuana penalties!

Dear Supporter:

After sailing through the House (97-2) and Senate (38-0), a sensible sentencing reform bill was signed into law by Gov. Steve Bashear (D) yesterday. H.B. 463 will reduce personal possession of less than eight ounces of marijuana from a Class A misdemeanor, with a penalty of up to a year in jail, to a Class B misdemeanor, with a maximum 45 day jail term. This change will go into effect on approximately June 24.

Additionally, it appears that individuals solely accused of marijuana possession will be cited — not arrested — under H.B. 463. If there are reasonable grounds to believe the individual will appear in court, H.B. 463 provides that police may not arrest people for misdemeanors. There are some exceptions. For example, an officer may (but is not required to) arrest in cases of a refusal to follow an officer’s reasonable instructions, and for offenses in which the defendant poses a risk of danger to himself or others. 

During the floor debate, legislators discussed passing a “Phase 2” bill next year, and we can all work hard together to encourage lawmakers to reduce the penalty for marijuana possession to a non-criminal fine, as is the case in Mississippi and Ohio. Thank you to everyone who took action!


Noah Mamber signature (master)

Noah Mamber
Legislative Analyst
Marijuana Policy Project



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"Penalties against drug use should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself. Nowhere is this more clear than in the laws against the possession of marijuana in private for personal use."
Former President Jimmy Carter, message to Congress, August 2, 1977