Legal Reform

logo14Although people arrested for marijuana possession rarely end up in prison, an arrest record can hurt someone’s chances of getting a job or accessing social benefits later in life.

Analyses by Kilmer and Room found that the arrest rates for cannabis users who had used the drug in the past year are roughly 3 percent, and that none of those convicted of possession are incarcerated or received an administrative fine of more than $1,000 (USD). [i]

Project SAM seeks to establish a rational policy for marijuana possession that is for personal use only. A rational policy no longer relies only on the criminal justice system to address people whose only crime is smoking or possessing a small amount of marijuana.


Project SAM recommends the following dispositions:

logo1Marijuana Use/Possession

  • That possession or use of a small amount of marijuana be a civil offense subject to a mandatory health screening and marijuana-education program as appropriate. Referrals to treatment and/or social-support services should be made if needed. The individual could even be monitored for 6-12 months in a probation program designed to prevent further drug use.
  • That there is an end to the practice of “stop-and-frisk.”
  • That no marijuana use in any form is permitted in public view.
  • That smoke-free laws apply to marijuana and tobacco.
  • That there is expungement of any personal record regarding possession of small amounts of marijuana.

logo5Production, Distribution, Dealing and Sale of Marijuana

Smart Approaches to Marijuana seeks fair and proportionate penalties for these crimes and recommends:

  • That they remain misdemeanors or felonies based on amounts possessed.
  • An end to mandatory minimum sentences so judges can exercise discretion under the law.
  • Assessment and mandatory treatment in prison for those who are addicted. Appropriate aftercare should be provided by service providers licensed by the state upon release.
  • Restoration of all civil rights once sentences have been served for a personal use marijuana conviction.
  • Services for re-entry into the community through Justice Reinvestment or similar programs, such as the Drug Market Initiative(DMI).

logo10Marijuana and Driving

Smart Approaches to Marijuana seeks to keep America’s roadways safe for all drivers. Because no level of marijuana impairment has been established, SAM recommends that:

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