Wisconsin making a difference from the inside out, in more ways than one. Local ordinances are the only way to press the issue of State wide legalization so that it, someday, will be taken as serious by the Representatives and Senators as it is by the people they represent here in Wisconsin. Not only was this a Local Ordinance, when I said from the inside out I was also referring to the way it came to be. The Ordinance was developed at the request of Police Chief Eric Roller.
Common council may trim criminal penalty for marijuana, but raise fines
Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012
The Antigo Common Council may lower the criminal penalty for possessing small quantities of marijuana, while increasing the punch to the offender’s pocketbook Wednesday.
The council will convene at 6 p.m. in the chambers at City Hall, and the main item of interest will be action on an ordinance related to possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana and related paraphernalia.
The ordinance, which has been approved by the Finance, Personnel and Legislative Committee, was developed at the request of Police Chief Eric Roller. It would decriminalize possession of a small amount of the controlled substance, making it a simple ordinance violation, and set a fine of $200 plus costs for a total of $389.
It also sets a forfeiture of $150, exclusive of costs, for possession of drug paraphernalia, referring to the equipment, products and materials used for using marijuana and other controlled substances.
In a memo to aldermen, Roller stressed that the switch from criminal to simple forfeiture status for marijuana within the city limits is “not to relax our stance of the seriousness of the drug issue, though to give a more immediate consequence to the small amounts of marijuana or drug paraphernalia that our officers come across during the course of duty.”
Currently, those found with small amounts of the drug are referred to criminal court, creating a time-consuming process for the officer, Roller said. The subject is often entitled to a public defender, funded by taxpayers, and due to court backlog “many cases are pled down without consequences that the officers feel are sufficient.”
The ordinance status, Roller saidm would also be a potential revenue generator for the city, since it would keep the $200 forfeiture amount, with court costs split between the county and state.
After a citation, a second offense would still result in court referral as a misdemeanor. A third offense would advance to felony status.
“A city ordinance for these violations would allow a quick response to the violation with a stronger financial impact on the individual,” he said, adding it would still shed “a message of the seriousness of the drug issue.”