Kenosha City Council Cool to Reducing Pot Penalties but say debate inevitable

bust
Kenosha alders expect the national and state debate over decriminalizing or even legalizing pot is coming to the City Council, and some are not happy. (Photo credit: Gary Storck)

The Kenosha News is reporting in a May 18 article that Kenosha alders expect the debate over lowering penalties for possession of small amounts of cannabis will come to the City Council. While alders admit that legalization in other states and local debates over pot fines in the Milwaukee City Council, Dane County Board and other Wisconsin locations make it likely they will discuss it, many seem quite cool to the idea.

The current Kenosha ordinance lists the penalty for no more than 28 grams of cannabis as a fine from $10.00 to $750.00 plus costs, and up to 90 days in jail for nonpayment of the fine. (Full ordinance below)

Ald. Rocco LaMacchia, who chairs the Public Safety and Welfare Committee, was very cool to easing penalties, “Unfortunately, I do see this discussion coming down the pike in City Council. It probably will start in my committee. I think it will be sometime later, to see what these other cities are doing.”

LaMacchia said he wouldn’t vote for or condone decriminalization. “I realize our jails and our court systems are packed with cases like this,” LaMacchia added. “But if we lower our standards, we’re caving into the people who smoke pot. I know the police chief would not condone this. Rules are rules; laws are laws.”

“I realize our jails and our court systems are packed with cases like this. But if we lower our standards, we’re caving into the people who smoke pot. I know the police chief would not condone this. Rules are rules; laws are laws.” — Ald. Rocco LaMacchia

Ald. Dave Paff was more pragmatic, “It will probably come down to whether or not the public expresses concern one way or another. I think it’s premature to take up the issue just yet.”

“It will probably come down to whether or not the public expresses concern one way or another. — Ald. Dave Paff

Like his colleague LaMacchia, Ald. Bob Johnson also expressed hostility, “I would have a hard time taking my colleagues seriously if they proposed a new drug policy that was aimed at decriminalizing marijuana.”

“Drug dealers sell drugs because they like the money (and) City Hall likes money, too. I suppose anything is possible.” — Ald. Bob Johnson

Ald. Kurt Wicklund said he too sees the debate as inevitable.

“The national wind seems to be blowing in the direction of reform. So, eventually, this issue will arrive in Kenosha,” he said. “But will it arrive on a federal, state or local level first? If I answered, it’d just be a blind guess.”

The City of Kenosha is represented by 17 alders. If you live in Kenosha, please contact your alder and tell them the time for this debate is now.

11.146 POSSESSION OF MARIJUANA

A. Intent. It is the intent of the Common Council of the City of Kenosha to effectively control and regulate the possession and use of small amounts of marijuana (1 ounce or 28 grams or less of marijuana). It is intended that this Ordinance will promote, encourage and expedite law enforcement and prosecution for such violations. Possession of amounts of marijuana exceeding 1 ounce or 28 grams and/or subsequent violations for such offenses will continue to be referred to the District Attorney’s office for State criminal prosecution.

B. It shall be unlawful for any person to use or carry, or for any person, firm, party or corporation to possess marijuana as that substance is defined in Section 961.01(14), Wisconsin Statutes (2006), except as otherwise authorized by Chapter 961 of the Wisconsin Statutes (2006).

Penalty. Any person, firm, party or corporation convicted for a violation of the above Ordinance shall forfeit from $10.00 to $750.00 for each offense, plus the costs of prosecution, and in default thereof shall be committed to the County Jail for a period not to exceed ninety (90) days.

Please like & share: