Resolution Cuts Pot Possession Fine to $1
Sup. Ortiz-Velez's county resolution will be mirrored by Glendale proposal, says Mayor Kennedy.
Milwaukee County Supervisor Sylvia Ortiz-Velez has introduced a resolution that would reduce the fine for marijuana possession to just $1.
Currently, the county fine for possession of marijuana up to 25 grams is $250 to $500. Because of state statutes, dropping the fine to $1 is as far as Ortiz-Velez and her co-sponsors could go in the direction of decriminalization or legalization.
Ortiz-Velez was joined by Glendale Mayor Bryan Kennedy and Eric Marsch, the southeastern Wisconsin executive director for NORML, an organization that advocates for the legalization of marijuana. Her resolution is co-sponsored by Supervisors Sequanna Taylor, Ryan Clancy, Steven Shea, Willie Johnson, Jr., Liz Sumner and board Chairwoman Marcelia Nicholson.
Last week Gov. Tony Evers released his biennial budget and it included a provision to legalize recreational and medicinal marijuana.
In greatly reducing the penalties for marijuana possession, Ortiz-Velez is trying to address the unequal enforcement of existing marijuana laws — which she believes to be unjust in the first place as she supports legalization — and the opioid crisis.
Ortiz-Velez believes the effects of opioids have been devastating to communities in Milwaukee County, and that medical marijuana could become a less harmful substitute for the use of these narcotics to treat things like chronic or debilitating pain.
“Too many people are suffering and too many people are dying because they don’t have access to the medicine that they need,” she said.
And when it comes to arrest and prosecution for marijuana possession, Ortiz-Velez pointed to a report by the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin which found the state’s Black residents were four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession as white residents, despite having comparable rates of usage.
On top of that, the hundreds of dollars one has to pay after being cited for marijuana possession represents a financial burden that disproportionately affects Black residents because of the disparity in enforcement.
70% of voters in Milwaukee County indicated they favored marijuana legalization in a 2018 referendum.
“There’s actually a lot of people who support it who don’t use it, you’d be surprised,” Ortiz-Velez said.
Mayor Kennedy said he is going to introduce an ordinance in Glendale that would mirror the one that will be considered by the county board. Speaking at the press conference, he largely spoke in favor of statewide legalization.
Regarding the role medicinal marijuana could have for Wisconsin residents, Kennedy said that marijuana “is far gentler on the body that these opioids are.”
Kennedy, along with Sup. John Weishan, Jr. who sponsored the legalization referendum in 2018, noted that Wisconsin has legal and regulated alcohol and tobacco products and argued that marijuana should be no different.
“What we are trying to do here is, take those steps to make people wake up, like they did in the 1930’s and say that prohibition is wrong and has more ill effects than making it legal and regulated and safe for public use,” he said.
In the resolution that would change the county ordinance, it’s noted that Wisconsin is among a minority of states that don’t have some form of legalized marijuana and is one of only 14 states that still has state statutes imposing jail time for “simple marijuana possession.”
- State Lawmakers Hold Hearing on Medical Marijuana - Shawn Johnson - Apr 21st, 2022
- Senator Agard Responds to Medical Marijuana Bill Hearing - State Sen. Melissa Agard - Apr 11th, 2022
- GOP Leader Says Legal Pot Likely ‘At Some Point’ - Christine Hatfield - Mar 7th, 2022
- 61% Of State Supports Legal Cannabis - Isiah Holmes - Mar 6th, 2022
- Two Medical Marijuana Bills Proposed - Shamane Mills - Feb 9th, 2022
- State bill would erase city’s move to decriminalize marijuana possession, increase minimum penalty to $100 - Milwaukee Common Council - Nov 18th, 2021
- Bipartisan Bill Changes Pot Possession Penalties - Laurel White - Nov 17th, 2021
- Senator Agard Hosts Virtual Roundtable on Cannabis Legalization - State Sen. Melissa Agard - Oct 18th, 2021
- Medical Professionals Support Legalizing Cannabis - State Sen. Melissa Agard - Aug 30th, 2021
- Should Milwaukee Eliminate Fine for Small Amounts of Marijuana? - Jeramey Jannene - Jun 25th, 2021
Read more about Legalizing of Marijuana here