MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A bipartisan bill introduced in the Wisconsin Legislature would lighten penalties for marijuana possession in many parts of the state and increase fines in a few of the state’s largest communities.
Under the plan sponsored by Republican Rep. Shae Sortwell and Democratic Sen. Sylvia Ortiz-Velez, the state penalty for possessing up to 14 grams of marijuana would be reduced to a $100 civil forfeiture.
The bill is being referred to as the marijuana reform legislation. These efforts by state officials are to decriminalize the possession of marijuana. Reports show that since 2010, there have been more than 15,000 arrests in the state of Wisconsin relating to possession.
The group also claims a big contributor pushing this bill, is the hope that this could reduce prison populations by not filling cells with people caught with smaller charges, believing most of those individuals do not “re-offend” because of having served time.
It would also change possession of marijuana to civil forfeiture, like a speeding ticket, from a misdemeanor offense. Current state law makes first-time marijuana possession a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of a $1,000 fine and six months in jail.
Local governments are currently allowed to establish their own penalties for possessing small amounts of cannabis. The new proposal would require communities to enforce fines between $100 and $250, along with up to 40 hours of community service