WI marijuana: Milwaukee officials propose reducing weed fines to $1

MILWAUKEE, Wis. -- In Wisconsin, Milwaukee County is considering dropping the fine for possessing a small about of marijuana from hundreds of dollars to just a dollar.

The proposal comes the same week the governor proposed legalizing and taxing marijuana across the state, WISN reported.

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"This resolution will reduce the fine of possession of 25 grams of marijuana to no more than a dollar," said Sylvia Ortiz-Velez with the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors.

Ortiz-Velez said her proposed ordinance would be a de facto decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana in the county.

A fine of a buck would be a significant drop from the fines right now that can add up to $250-500.

Advocates said the proposal is also about social justice.

"The Wisconsin chapter of the ACLU found that black Wisconsinites are 4.2% more likely to be arrested for possession than white Wisconsinites even though there is a common usage rate," Ortiz-Velez said.

Advocates said 25 grams is less than a month's supply for a typical medical marijuana user.

"Between a half a gram to a gram would be a typical size for a joint. So it's about 25 joints," said Eric Marsch, Exec. Dir. of Southeastern Wisconsin NORML.

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"Wisconsin is woefully behind many of our neighbors," added Glendale Mayor Bryan Kennedy. "If you look just south to Illinois, if you look at Michigan, those are states that have gone through a legalization process."

"Why would we want to bring more mind-altering drugs into the equation," countered Republican State Senator Van Wanggaard.

Senator Van Wanggaard, who is also a former police officer, is against such efforts.

"Not that alcohol is much better, but alcohol, at least, it's out of your system," he said.

The judiciary committee will take up the proposal on March 11.
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