Some members of the Milwaukee County Board want to reduce the fine for 25 grams or less of marijuana down to $1. Currently, the fine for that amount ranges from $250 to $500.
Supervisor Sylvia Ortiz-Velez unveiled the proposal at a news conference Tuesday. She cited a recent study that shows disproportionate numbers of people of color are arrested on marijuana charges.
“The Wisconsin Chapter of the ACLU found that Black Wisconsinites are 4.2 times more likely to be arrested for possession than white Wisconsinites, even though there is a common usage rate. And Wisconsin ranks 14th when it comes to racial disparities in marijuana possession,” she said.
Ortiz-Velez said the reduced fines would apply to people who use marijuana for medical purposes, as well as recreationally. She said she finds it particularly disturbing that potentially people could be arrested for possessing marijuana for medical purposes.
“We have burdened our criminal justice system and have not provided a safe way for those suffering from chronic or debilitating pain to have access and utilize the medicine that they require,” she said.
Ortiz-Velez said state laws would still be enforced if someone is caught possessing larger than 25 grams of marijuana. In case you were wondering, she said 25 grams equals about 25 marijuana cigarettes, or joints.
The proposal heads to a committee next month, with a vote from the full County Board expected later in the month. Ortiz-Velez said she’s confident it’ll pass overwhelmingly.
WUWM reached out to Milwaukee County Sheriff Earnell Lucas for reaction to the proposal but did not hear back from him by deadline.