Decriminalization of cannabis has been around on the state level since the early 1970’s when Oregon first lowered fines and removed the possibility of jail time for small amount possession. This was a step in the right direction but unfortunately tickets continued to be issued. In addition to the financial harm, there is additional harm caused by collateral consequences such as loss of drivers license, government housing and student loans.
Sensible Decriminalization is distinguished from regular decriminalization by the very key difference of not just lowering the fines and consequences, but rather removing them completely. Sensible Decriminalization is No Fines, No Jail Time, No Court Costs. This is a very big difference even over a small fine of $10-$25. We have seen, if there is a fine of any amount, the police will still issue tickets and harm will be caused to citizens. With Sensible Decrim, the idea is that although cannabis is still illegal, the incentive is removed for writing tickets altogether and is considered such a low priority, tickets are rarely issued. Think in terms of jaywalking, which is technically illegal. However it is seen as such a low priority offense that jaywalking tickets are rarely written. That is exactly the result in a local municipality with a Sensible Decrim law. The priority shifts to bigger issues and away from small-time cannabis users effectively ending the drug war against misdemeanor possession. The ordinance also covers other misdemeanor marijuana offenses such as paraphernalia, etc..
Sensible Decriminalization is innovative policy that is financially feasable and very effective. The important thing to realize is that in most states the local law will actually have precedence over the state law. The Sensible Decrim language is written very specifically to ensure the local ordinance can not be ignored by law enforcement.