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Panel Considering Major Cuts To Drug Sentences

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- A state commission has set in motion major reductions to prison sentences for many drug offenders.

The Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission voted Wednesday to reduce some drug sentences by nearly half. The commission's action would cut first- and second-degree possession sentences while leaving stiffer penalties for sales and "kingpin" activity.

Commissioner Mark Wernick says the state's current guidelines are too severe, hitting lower-level drug users with sentences that should be reserved for major drug dealers.

The changes wouldn't take effect until at least August. Lawmakers could vote to veto the changes this spring.

The move comes amid a nationwide push to reform drug laws and concern that Minnesota's prison population is growing too large.

(© Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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