House Bill 1625 — Representative Garry Mize, Author 


Defines possession with intent to distribute (PWID) to distinguish between PWID (a felony) and simple possession (a misdemeanor). This change prevents inappropriate and inconsistent charging practices. 

WHY

Unlike most states, Oklahoma does not specifically define PWID in law.  The statute is vague and does not provide specific drug quantities (weight) and other factors to prove intent to sell,  that would help distinguish between PWID and simple drug possession (now a misdemeanor after the passage of SQ 780). This has resulted in PWID being charged inconsistently and inappropriately. 

SUMMARY

HB1625 sets a drug weight minimum and lists other contextual factors that must be present to convict someone of PWID instead of simple drug possession.

IMPACT

While prison admissions for drug possession have gone down, there has been a near identical growth in admissions for PWID since SQ 780 took effect. This indicates that these charges can be used interchangeably. Because of vagueness,  people with substance use disorders can still receive felony convictions and prison time for drug possession instead of treatment–the exact opposite of what SQ 780 was enacted to do. 

PWID CRITERIA UNDER HB1625

To convict someone of PWID, they must possess more than ¼ of the trafficking weight of a schedule I or II controlled substance and three of the following five criteria must be present:

  • Means to weigh the substance
  • Materials primarily used for separating and packaging controlled substances
  • Possession of a firearm
  • At least two other controlled substances 
  • More than $500 in cash

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Will this lower our incarceration rate?

Yes. By defining PWID, we can ensure that people who did not intend to sell drugs are not sent to prison. 

Will this reform allow drug dealers to be released from prison and legalize dealing? 

No. People convicted of dealing drugs will still face felony PWID and other distribution charges and can be sentenced to prison. 

Does this affect interstate traffickers?

No. Drug trafficking is a separate crime and is not touched by this reform.

Does this help law enforcement and prosecutors make appropriate and consistent charging decisions?

Yes. Establishing a minimum weight and other factors to prove  PWID helps law enforcement and prosecutors enforce the law appropriately and consistently. It also allows people who need substance abuse treatment to receive services instead of being sent to prison. 

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