Federal Sentencing Commission Proposes New Marijuana Guidelines For Judges That Would Treat Past Convictions More Leniently

Federal Sentencing Commission Proposes New Marijuana Guidelines For Judges That Would Treat Past Convictions More Leniently
MJ moment

The federal U.S. Sentencing Commission (USSC) held a public meeting on Thursday, where members voted to propose an amendment to update sentencing guidelines to suggest that judges treat prior marijuana possession offenses more leniently. As it stands, federal judges are directed to take into account prior convictions, including state-level cannabis offenses, as aggravating factors when making sentencing decisions. But as more states have moved to legalize marijuana, advocates have pushed for updated guidelines to make it so a person’s marijuana record doesn’t add criminal history points that could lead to enhanced sentences. The new USSC proposal doesn’t seek to remove marijuana convictions as a criminal history factor entirely, but it would revise commentary within the guidelines to “include sentences resulting from possession of marihuana offenses as an example of when a downward departure from the defendant’s criminal history may be warranted,” according to a synopsis. The term “downward departure” refers to situations where federal judges impose sentences that are lower than the minimum recommended under current guidelines. In essence, the amendment would codify that simple cannabis possession, “without an intent to sell or distribute it to another person,” is a prime example of a case that should warrant sentencing discretion. Here’s the proposed commentary language on cannabis possession for the sentencing guidelines: Downward Departures.— (A) Examples.—A downward departure from the defendant’s criminal history category may be warranted based on any of the following circumstances: … (ii) The defendant received criminal history points from a sentence for possession of marihuana for personal use, without an intent to sell or distribute it to another person. The commission is seeking public comment on the proposed revision, specifically inviting input on “whether there is an alternative approach it should consider for addressing sentences for possession of marihuana.” For example, USSC is open to feedback on…

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Source : Federal Sentencing Commission Proposes New Marijuana Guidelines For Judges That Would Treat Past Convictions More Leniently

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