A Nebraska lawmaker is pushing for a change within the state’s drug legal guidelines that he says are outdated, in response to a report within the Lincoln Journal Star. Sen. Justin Wayne of Omaha has launched two payments that might regulate penalties for some drug possession and distribution offenses. At a gathering of the legislature’s Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, Wayne stated present legal guidelines have been placing individuals who weren’t concerned within the distribution of medicine in jail for trafficking and creating overcrowding in state prisons and county jails.
The first measure, LB89, was launched by Wayne in January and would scale back penalties for possession of marijuana and possession with intent to ship. Wayne informed his colleagues on the committee that the state’s present legal guidelines are leading to defendants being sentenced unfairly.
“We have arbitrary numbers in the marijuana statutes that presume a person is a distributor,” Wayne stated. “Our law needs to be nuanced because if not … we are prosecuting people who simply may have a habit, although illegal, but are not considered drug manufacturers or distributors.”
Under LB89, possession with intent to ship 5 kilos or much less of marijuana can be lowered to a Class lV felony. Quantities higher than 5 kilos would proceed to be a Class llA felony, with penalties of as much as 20 years in jail.
For easy possession costs, multiple pound as much as 5 kilos of marijuana can be a Class l misdemeanor. More than three ounces to at least one pound can be a Class lll misdemeanor with a most penalty of three months in jail.
In testimony on the listening to, Lancaster County Public Defender Joe Nigro stated that the War on Drugs was a failure, identical to Prohibition earlier than it.
“Legalization of marijuana across the country is inevitable,” Nigro stated. “Use of marijuana runs across racial and socioeconomic lines, yet African-Americans are four times as likely to be arrested and charged for marijuana offenses.”
ACLU of Nebraska Attorney Spike Eickholt advised the lawmakers that he’s seen individuals with lower than an oz of marijuana dealing with the identical penalties as in the event that they’d been caught smuggling 500 kilos of pot down the freeway.
“Prosecutors do charge, and in my opinion overcharge, those kinds of cases,” stated Eickholt.
The second invoice by Wayne, LB652, would make it a Class l misdemeanor to own a residual or very small quantity of a managed substance, with a punishment of not multiple yr in jail, a $1,000 high quality, or each.
Wayne stated that residue can’t get anybody excessive, however continues to be handled as a Class lV felony with a penalty of as much as two years in jail and a fantastic of $10,000.
“Right now there’s no basic distinction and no protection from prosecutors for someone simply caught with a pipe that has residue, versus someone caught with actual measurable amounts (of a drug),” Wayne informed the committee.
Nigro stated that half of the instances dealt with by his workplace have been drug instances, 70 % of which have been for possession. Of these, 39 % have been for fees of possessing residue. Changing the regulation would save the county assets, he stated.
“It would be one thing if all of this was reducing drug use and making our communities safer. It isn’t,” stated Nigro.