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Decriminalize, yes -- full legalization, no

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A House committee has rejected a proposed Constitutional measure to legalize recreational marijuana.

The measure was proposed by Rep. Marvin Nelson (D-Rolla). If passed by the voters, it would legalize marijuana for anyone over the age of 21 – and the individuals could “grow their own.” It would also have imposed a tax on it, to be used for drug education and treatment.

"The goal is to bring the whole thing above board, get rid of criminal activity, quit ruining people's lives over things that are really minor," Nelson told the House Judiciary Committee.

The committee voted to remove the taxation section – then voted 10 to 2 for a “do not pass.”

Earlier, the committee voted 8 to 4  for a “do-pass” on a bill to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana, and possession of marijuana paraphernalia. The measure’s main sponsor – Rep. Shannon Roers-Jones (R-Fargo) – told the committee anyone in possession of less than one ounce of marijuana would be guilty of a non-criminal offense, punishable by a $50 fine.

"We don't want to create criminal records that are going to affect people into the future, for possessing small quantities of marijuana and paraphernalia," Roers-Jones told the committee. "This affects people's ability to find jobs, housing, etc. And it affects their ability to be successful."

Roers-Jones said one ounce of marijuana would be roughly equivalent to the tobacco content of one pack of cigarettes.

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