Music and NPR News for Central and Northern Michigan
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Bill package would allow people convicted of marijuana related crimes to have sentences reviewed

Pkay Chelle

Under a new package of bills in the state Senate people on probation or in prison for marijuana related crimes could have their sentences reduced or eliminated.

According to an official with the Michigan Department of Corrections the bills could impact over 1,300 people currently on probation for marijuana related crimes.

There are only three people in prison who could be affected by the measure.

Democratic State Senator Sylvia Santana authored the legislation. She said the bills allow people with marijuana convictions to appeal to a judge to have their case reviewed.

“We have already legalized marijuana in the state so therefore this is just the right thing to do.”

Santana said the bill addresses an issue of social justice: African-Americans are disproportionately convicted of marijuana related crimes.

She said people on probation or parole based solely on marijuana-related crimes could have their sentences terminated. For people with multiple convictions not related to marijuana judges will have options.

“Whatever the charges might be there might be an opportunity to have those charges reduced or have those eliminated as well.”

Republican State Senator Curt VanderWall is one of the sponsors of the legislation. He said the issue of ongoing punishment for something that is now legal has been brought up at his coffee hours frequently.

“Hey, it’s legal should we really keep punishing people for something that happened in the past? I think we put a good series of bills here that are fair, good for the system, and good for the people that live in this state.”

Both Santana and VanderWall are hopeful the legislation will move quickly through the legislature.