County Supervisors Back $1 Pot Penalty
8 board members push plan slashing $500 penalty for possession.
The Milwaukee County penalty for marijuana possession would drop from up to $500 to $1, under a proposal introduced by a group of county supervisors.
“In achieving racial equity, disparities in the criminal justice system, including marijuana and paraphernalia possession laws, must be eradicated,” the resolution said.
The state should fully legalize cannabis, he said. “This is a step in that direction.”
The existing county ordinance calls for forfeitures of $250 to $500 and the county usually levies a $275 penalty, according to the proposal. When additional fees are added in, however, the total jumps to about $484.
A $1 penalty would really cost $142.26 once fees and surcharges are included, according to a court official. The new penalty also would apply to possession of drug paraphernalia ordinance violations.
There were 187 county marijuana tickets issued in 2019, according to the resolution.
Under the existing ordinance, “some individuals may not be able to afford the fine and fees associated with a marijuana possession citation, which may result in their case being sent to collections or an increased charge, which is less likely to be collected by Milwaukee County and can affect an individual’s financial situation, including their credit scores,” the resolution said.
State law also mandates that information, including photographs and fingerprints, of people arrested for offenses – including minor ordinance violations – involving controlled substances be submitted to the Wisconsin Department of Justice. The arrest information is available to anyone performing a criminal background check through the department.
The county ordinance applies to cases involving 25 grams or less of marijuana. Law enforcement can still issue state tickets, if necessary, for amounts larger than that, the ordinance said.
Wisconsin also was one of 17 states that saw a jump in cannabis possession arrests from 2010 to 2018 “despite an increasing shift in attitudes toward decriminalization and legalization of marijuana,” the resolution said.
WJI reported that Black people were defendants in 77% of marijuana possession cases in Milwaukee Municipal Court in 2019, despite making up just 39% of the city’s population.
Gretchen Schuldt writes a blog for Wisconsin Justice Initiative, whose mission is “To improve the quality of justice in Wisconsin by educating the public about legal issues and encouraging civic engagement in and debate about the judicial system and its operation.”
- Senator Agard Sends Letter to JFC Co-Chairs in Support of Keeping Legalization of Marijuana in State Budget - State Sen. Melissa Agard - Feb 10th, 2021
- Chairwoman Nicholson Supports County and State Efforts to End Marijuana Prohibition - County Board Chairwoman Marcelia Nicholson - Feb 10th, 2021
- MKE County: Resolution Cuts Pot Possession Fine to $1 - Graham Kilmer - Feb 9th, 2021
- Supervisor Ortiz-Velez Introduces Proposal Reducing Penalty for Marijuana Possession - Sup. Sylvia Ortiz-Velez - Feb 9th, 2021
- Wisconsin Would Use Marijuana Legalization to Pay For Education, Equity - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 7th, 2021
- Senator Agard Supports Governor Evers’ Budget Provision to Legalize and Tax Marijuana in Wisconsin - State Sen. Melissa Agard - Feb 7th, 2021
- Gov. Evers Proposes Legalizing Marijuana, Investing Portion of Revenue in Equity Initiatives and Rural Schools - Gov. Tony Evers - Feb 7th, 2021
- County Supervisors Back $1 Pot Penalty - Gretchen Schuldt - Feb 6th, 2021
- Cannabis Reform Gets Bipartisan Support - Isiah Holmes - Nov 8th, 2020
- A Day to Consider Legalizing Pot - Isiah Holmes - Apr 20th, 2020
Read more about Legalizing of Marijuana here