The police chief in Monona, Wisconsin seems like a very chill guy.
“If the community values are, ‘Marijuana is not that serious of an offense’ and they want to have a $1 fine, or no fine, that’s their opinion,” Chief Walter Ostrenga said after the town council voted to scrap all weed possession charges.
Under the new ordinance, possessing marijuana in public or in private spaces is no longer subject to a fine, as long as the person is over 21.
Smoking weed in a private residence is also exempt, although toking in public is still subject to a $200 fine.
After a year and a half of discussion, the Monona City Council considered reducing weed possession fines of $200 to a mere $1.
But then they decided even a dollar was too much.
Ostrenga said they only average about 60 to 70 marijuana possession calls a year, but he was concerned that eliminating all fines could lead to more people having pot in their homes and that it could fall into the hands of children.
Advocates like Gary Storck, former president of Madison, Wisconsin’s NORML chapter, believes the change will oblige police and law enforcement officers to focus on drug issues that are much more apparent and damaging, not only for young people but across the board.
“It really isn’t worth their time to go out of their way to get somebody for a small amount of cannabis, especially when we’re in the middle of this opioid…I have to call it a health emergency, because despite all the laws the state has passed, the amount of overdoses keeps going up,” said Storck, according to Channel3000.com.
Monona Mayor, Bob Miller, says he agrees with the concerns of both sides, but wants his city to get on track with laws in neighboring communities.
“I can totally see both the arguments for and against, but I think there is an initiative, a change coming forth that is going to be a reduction of those fines,” Miller said.
Monona, population 7,750, is completely surrounded by culturally and socially liberal Madison, Wisconsin, where the City Council recently voted unanimously to legalize cannabis oil.
Democrats in the Wisconsin Legislature are currently circulating a bill to legalize medical marijuana.
Based on the state’s attitude toward CBD oil, the medical marijuana initiative is likely to pass.