Herald-Independent reports on Monona Public Safety Commission’s look at reducing pot penalties

The Monona Herald-Independent reported on the Jan. 27 Monona Public Safety Commission discussion on reducing penalties for possession of small amounts of cannabis that we noted here recently.

Members of the Monona Public Safety Commission appear to be leaning toward legal possession and use of marijuana by adults in a private setting.

At a Jan. 27 meeting, commissioners debated whether to lower the fine for use or possession from the current $313 to $1 or eliminate the issue completely from the city’s code, leaving state and federal enforcement as the only options. The use and possession of marijuana would be legalized in private homes, and the $1 fine would be for those using in public places.

While the proposal received strong support in testimony from Madison NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), some of the more amazing words of support came from members of the Monona Police Dept.

Sgt. Detective Ryan Losby, who wrote the proposed changes to the ordinance, noted the nationwide trend to legalize marijuana and said he favored removing the law from the books.

“Thinking about it now, I don’t see a police officer writing a citation for a dollar and wasting the resources of us and the courts,” he said. “If there’s an interest in this, completely take it off the books except for the juvenile offenses … and lighting up in public.”

Losby said police have other, more substantial issues to deal with than marijuana use.

“We have a major, major heroin problem we’re dealing with every day,” he said.

Commission members plan to continue the discussion at the next meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 24. If agreement is reached, the proposed changes will be referred to the City Council. A poll associated on the Herald-Independent’s site, “Should Monona legalize the use and possession of marijuana?” was finding strong support, with over 80% support as of this writing.

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