If you’ve been arrested in the past for drug crimes or are worried about a charge currently going against you, this news about potential changes to the drug laws in Minnesota could be good news for you.

The Minnesota State Senate Committee has approved changes that will affect the state’s drug laws; these changes could be enacted if the State House approves. According to recent news reports, the changes will be used to lower drug possession penalties and other drug penalties.

As of the beginning of 2016, Minnesota has some of the harshest penalties for those caught with drugs in the entire United States. In fact, because the laws are so strict, nearly half the offenders locked up in prison are non-violent drug users. Many are people who are addicted to drugs or who had offended multiple times with small amounts in their possession.

So, what could change with how someone is penalized? One of the major steps is now looking at the individual and seeing if a viable alternative would be to send the person to a chemical dependency treatment facility instead of prison. Getting someone the help they need to break drug dependency can be more effective than keeping them in prison.

The bill also addresses the amount of a drug needed in your possession before it will be considered a felony. Some argue that raising these limits means people will have more drugs in the area, but it’s hoped that the changes to the system will help lower the number of people in the prison system, which is already overcrowded.

Source: Minnesota, “State Senate Committee Approves Lower Penalties For Drug Arrests,” Pat Kessler, April 08, 2016