Board Changes Pot Possession Fine to $1
Under state law county can't fully decriminalize.
The Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution Thursday that reduces the fine for marijuana possession up to 25 grams to $1.
The resolution was introduced in February by Supervisor Sylvia Ortiz-Velez with several of her colleagues on the board as co-sponsors, along with the support of the local chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws and Glendale Mayor Bryan Kennedy.
Ted Chisholm, chief of staff to Milwaukee County Sheriff Earnell Lucas, discussed the legislation when it went before the Judiciary, Safety and General Services Committee in early March, telling the supervisors that the sheriff’s office did not have a “formal position.” But Chisholm did say, “We do not oppose efforts to decriminalize marijuana and reduce penalties so as to alleviate the disparate impact that enforcement has historically had from a perspective of racial inequity.”
In 2019, the sheriff’s office issued 257 citations for marijuana possession in 2019.
The ordinance change was passed by the board 16 to 1. Sup. Patti Logsdon was the only one to vote against it.
At committee Logsdon proffered an amendment that would have only changed the fine to $1 for medical marijuana, which would have rendered the ordinance useless as the state does not have medical marijuana.
Besides her feeling that marijuana should be fully legalized, and this ordinance being the furthest the county can go in that direction under state law, Ortiz-Velez has repeatedly said a driving factor in her support of decriminalization is the racially disparate criminal justice outcomes for marijuana possession.
Reports by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office affirm that Black people in the state are more likely than white people to be arrested and convicted on charges of marijuana possession.
The City of Madison has already decriminalized marijuana up to 28 grams, and the City of Milwaukee is following suit with a similar proposal introduced this month. And Governor Tony Evers included a provision in his biennial state budget that would legalize recreational and medical marijuana — should it survive the Legislature.
Each of these law changes have and would go further than Orrtiz-Velez could with her county ordinance.
“This doesn’t fix all of our problems,” she said in February when she announced her resolution. “We’re doing what we can with the tools that we have to make it better for people to have access and not be criminally charged and not face financial burdens.”
- Evers, Advocates Discuss Justice System Reform, Legalizing Pot - Graham Kilmer - Apr 17th, 2021
- GOP State Senate Leader Dismisses Marijuana Legalization - Laurel White - Apr 16th, 2021
- Thousands of Wisconsinites Sign Petition in Support of Cannabis Legalization - State Sen. Melissa Agard - Mar 29th, 2021
- MKE County: Board Changes Pot Possession Fine to $1 - Graham Kilmer - Mar 26th, 2021
- County Board Adopts Resolution Reducing Marijuana Possession Penalty - Sup. Sylvia Ortiz-Velez - Mar 25th, 2021
- City Hall: Proposal Ends Fines for Pot Possession - Jeramey Jannene - Mar 23rd, 2021
- Racial Bias Found in Pot Prosecutions - Corri Hess - Mar 22nd, 2021
- MKE County: Committee Okays $1 Fine For Pot Possession - Graham Kilmer - Mar 16th, 2021
- Judiciary Committee Approves Proposal to Reduce Marijuana Possession Penalty - Sup. Sylvia Ortiz-Velez - Mar 11th, 2021
- 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
Read more about Legalizing of Marijuana here