STEVENS POINT, Wisconson: Today in weed news, Stevens Point City Council voted no on a proposed bill that would decrease marijuana citations to just $5 plus court fees on Monday. The Stevens Point Journal reported that the vote was unanimous and the current fine of $100 plus court fees will remain in effect.
The City Council decriminalized marijuana possession in 2014 for first-time offenders by lowering fines and jail time. The punishment for people caught with of up to 5 grams of marijuana went from jail time to a $300 fine plus court fees. The City Council decreased the fine to $100 in 2015.
The bill was introduced by Stevens Point City Council member Mary McComb, who after the vote said that she will advocate for legalization on the state level. She said that she will not propose the bill again because the city isn't ready. She added that people in the city do not agree on marijuana, saying that many people whom she respects do not want the penalty lowered and many people she also respects do want to lower penalties.
People who were against the proposal included the Stevens Point Police Department and the Portage County Coalition for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse. Those at the council meeting expressed their concerns about the proposal to the council. Many said that they believed the current fine is a deterrent while others stated that opioids are the real problem.
Mayor Said Lowering Fine Would Be Confusing
Mayor Mike Wiza, who is neutral on legalization, said that lowering the fine would be confusing for different jurisdictions since Stevens Point would be the only city doing it, adding "So, if a county sheriff's deputy pulls me over in Stevens Point for possession of marijuana the fine's different. If the State Patrol pulls me over in the city of Stevens Point for possession of marijuana, the fine's different. It's getting very confusing for anyone," said the Mayor.
Other cities are changing laws and decriminalizing the drug as well without much consistency. Oshkosh decriminalized marijuana in January when they lowered the fine for marijuana possession. The Oshkosh Common Council lowered the fine for first-time offenders from $325 to $200 in a 6 to 1 vote. Marijuana advocates had petitioned for a $25 fine but were unsuccessful.
The Monona City Council passed an ordinance removing fines for marijuana possession all together last year. Monona's new ordinance no longer allows fines for marijuana possession or consumption of marijuana for adults 21 and older. The new ordinance also discontinued fines for marijuana use in a private residence. Public consumption of marijuana results in a $200 fine in the city.
McComb says that the she previously thought that decriminalizing marijuana by lowering the fine would prompt the state to legalize marijuana, but now says that the city is better at changing local issues such as residential development and infrastructure. She added that after researching marijuana, she is convinced that Wisconsin should legalize marijuana on the state level.
Police Make Marijuana Bust in Columbus HS
The Wisconsin State Journal reported that the Columbus Police Department seized 15 pounds of marijuana on Friday. Police say they made the arrest after receiving a tip that a 17-year-old student was planning a school shooting at Columbus High School. The teenager was arrested at work based on his treats of domestic terrorism and a warrant for his residence was issued. Police discovered the marijuana at the teenager's residence after getting a second warrant.
Two men at the residence, Eugene Bobholz, 44, and Roy Whittington, 64, were arrested and taken to the Columbus County Jail. Both men are being charged with several drug-related crimes.