Arkansas Relaxes Marijuana Possession Penalties

Judges can now opt for suspended sentences without creating a criminal record.

As of September 2, a new law that relaxes the penalty for some marijuana offenses has gone into effect in Arkansas. Under the new law, people caught in possession of up to four ounces may be sentenced to a year's probation without formal charge, at the judge's discretion.

Under the new law, existing penalties for pot possession still remain. Offenders can still be sentenced to up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. But now, judges can opt for the sentence of probation with no criminal record.

Also, under the previous Arkansas law, possession of anything more than an ounce was punished by four to 10 days in jail and large fines. Now, someone possessing as much as four ounces will be eligible for probation.

The new law also lessons the penalties for repeat possession offenders and makes possession with the intent to deliver small amounts of marijuana a misdemeanor instead of a felony.

The law was passed last spring by the legislature and backed by Gov. Mike Beebe (R), who signed it into law in March.

- Article originally from Stop the Drug War.

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