Missouri lawmakers are considering an overhaul of the state's criminal laws this year that would include the creation of new felony and misdemeanor classes.
But within the 1,100-page bill is a more substantive change in the state's drug policy.
The Senate measure (SB 491), endorsed by a committee this week, would reduce the penalties for first-time marijuana possession offenders. Instead of facing a year in jail and a $1,000 fine, offenders would only be subject to a maximum $500 fine. The bill would also reduce the maximum prison sentence for other drug possession charges.
Similar House legislation (HB 1371), however, would leave the penalties the same as current law. Its sponsor says the criminal code overhaul should be separate from changing Missouri's drug policy.