Does punishment fit the crime?

Under current laws, an 18- or 19-year-old arrested for a second time for possessing a small amount of marijuana would face up to three years in prison and the lifelong stigma of being a convicted felon, but state lawmakers are looking at whether the punishment outweighs the crime.

Legislators are considering proposals to reduce penalties for the possession of marijuana, including by making some offenses misdemeanors and by writing tickets instead of making arrests.

Local lawmakers say they wouldn’t support making the crime a ticketable offense, but they likely would consider lessening some of the penalties, especially if the change would help reduce

overcrowding in prisons and courts. They said the goal of the penalties for marijuana offenses should be to get people off drugs and rehabilitate them into productive members of society.

More than 160 people faced criminal charges for possessing marijuana in Johnson County last year, and 136 of those were misdemeanors, according to the prosecutor’s office.

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