MILWAUKEE COUNTY — A Milwaukee County supervisor introduced a proposed ordinance to lower fines for marijuana possession to $1, saying it would address several issues. This comes as Gov. Tony Evers recommended legalizing and taxing marijuana in Wisconsin.
Eight Milwaukee County supervisors are sponsoring the local proposal introduced by Supervisor Sylvia Ortiz-Velez.
"In doing so we support the achievement of racial equity. We support the reduction of opiate use, and we remove the large financial burdens from many people," said Ortiz-Velez.
The change would apply to violations of 25 grams or less of marijuana.
The attached fiscal note points out the current forfeiture is $275, with court costs it adds up to $484. If the fine is lowered to $1 court costs would bring the total to $142.
"Under our current ordinances, some individuals may not be able to afford the fines and fees associated with marijuana possession citation, which may result in their case being sent to collections - many times is unlikely to be collected by Milwaukee County," Ortiz-Velez added.
The fiscal note states less than a quarter of the related fines owed from 2019 have been paid.
The proposal also pointed to a Wisconsin ACLU report that found black residents are four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white residents despite similar usage.
Kelly Lovelace said she relies on cannabis to treat chronic pain from a connective tissue disorder.
"Without cannabis, I am almost bedridden. With cannabis I have about six good hours in a day," said Lovelace.
Lovelace said previously opioids and other prescription drugs made her feel like a zombie. She lives in Madison where adults can smoke cannabis, but she believes wider acceptance is important.
"I want to have the same freedom that other people have to have Walgreens for instance deliver their prescriptions. During the pandemic, I've had to make some extraordinary strides just to make sure I have my medication and I don't want to have to do that anymore," said Lovelace.
The proposed ordinance will head to a committee on March 11 and the full board on March 25.
Glendale's mayor also announced he would introduce a similar ordinance.
TMJ4 News reached out to the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office for comment and did not get an immediate response.