Resolution to reduce cannabis fines in Milwaukee moves forward

By: - March 14, 2021 8:08 pm
Protester of marijuana laws reading End Racist Marijuana Arrests

Elizabeth Owens protests on the steps of New York City Hall in support of the proposed Fairness and Equity Act, which would attempt to reform racially biased arrests in regards to marijuana possession in New York state on July 9, 2014 in New York City. New York State recently passed a new law allowing medical marijuana usage. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

The Milwaukee County Board’s Judiciary, Safety and General Services Committee approved a resolution at its March 11 meeting to reduce fines for cannabis possession to no more than $1. Under current law, possession of cannabis and paraphernalia can result in a fine of no less than $250, and not more than $500.

County Supervisor Sylvia Ortiz-Velez, who sponsored the resolution, applauded its approval by the committee. “I would like to thank my colleagues on the Judiciary Committee for supporting this proposal,” said Ortiz-Velez in a statement. “Their support means those who use marijuana for medicine are one step closer to not being harshly penalized in Milwaukee County and it is another step towards achieving our vision of racial equity. I look forward to having the full County Board consider this resolution.”

If the resolution passes, it would apply only to local ordinances that criminalize possession of less than 25 grams of cannabis. For larger amounts, law enforcement would still be able to issue a citation or arrest. The resolution is expected to come before the full Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors on March 25.

The move comes as local municipalities lower fines and state legislators take another step toward considering reduced penalties. A bipartisan bill to reduce the penalty for possession of up to 10 grams of cannabis has been introduced in the state Assembly by Republicans. Some Wisconsin Republicans have also signaled an increasing openness to exploring options for legalizing medicinal cannabis.

Gov. Tony Evers also supported full legalization of cannabis in his proposed 2021-23 budget, estimating the fiscal impact could potentially be worth $165 million. Nevertheless, GOP leadership has indicated it will not support Evers’ proposal for full legalization.



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Isiah Holmes
Isiah Holmes

Isiah Holmes is a journalist and videographer, and a lifelong resident of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His writing has been featured in Urban Milwaukee, Isthmus, Milwaukee Stories, Milwaukee Neighborhood News Services, Pontiac Tribune, the Progressive Magazine, Al Jazeera, and other outlets.