Author of marijuana bill halts Oklahoma House committee hearing to address concerns

An Oklahoma House of Representatives committee has concerns about a bill that would no longer make second and subsequent charges of possessing marijuana a felony.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Modified: February 13, 2013 at 8:23 pm •  Published: February 14, 2013
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Rep. Randy Grau, R-Edmond, a member of the House of Representatives Public Safety Committee, said he is concerned that the measure places no limit on the number of subsequent arrests in which possessing marijuana still would be a misdemeanor.

“If we have somebody that's getting picked up on possession every six months, at what point could the DA charge him with a felony, if ever?” Grau asked.

Another committee member, Rep. Fred Jordan, R-Jenks, said he also had difficulty supporting a bill that would allow someone to have multiple convictions of possessing marijuana but not be charged with a felony.

“You've got to have a step for a felony,” Jordan said. “The overall goal is probably a good one.”

Williams said subsequent arrests could result in stiffer fines and fees, as well as longer community service requirements.

“The DA can still file a misdemeanor,” Williams said. “The DA can still escalate the punishment.

“You could get a whole ton of community service, which I would argue is actually better for the community than him sitting in a county jail or having a felony stigma attached,” he said.

Trent Baggett, assistant executive coordinator of the Oklahoma District Attorneys Council, said after the meeting that his group opposes HB 1835 in its present form, but it is willing to work with Williams.