To the Editor-
Milwaukee currently has legislation proposed to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana and we think that Stevens Point should follow their lead.
Based off of a recommendation from their police chief, the fine for possessing 25 grams or less would decrease from $250-$500 down to $50. In October of 2014, Stevens Point’s City Council voted to create an ordinance that makes a first-time possession of 5 grams or less a municipal violation, subject to a $300 fine and/or possible jail time. Any 2nd offense of possession would result in a felony, which effects one’s ability to get housing, apply for a job, or to enroll in college.
Having people struggle to find work or a place to live promotes criminal behavior and violence in our community. The enforcement policies are often more detrimental to our residents than the actual drug. High fines and jail time should be the consequences of more serious crimes, not possessing small amounts of marijuana.
Taxpayers would also save money by the decrease in unnecessary imprisonments, and lowering the amount of money spent on prosecutions for this petty crime.
We live in a free society, and as long as we are not harming others, we should be able to decide whether or not we use marijuana. We are already able to do this with alcohol and tobacco, substances that have been linked to many more health problems and deaths than marijuana.
If anything, marijuana has been proven to be beneficial to the health of many people as it is already a prescribed medication in 23 states and Washington, DC.
What we propose is a new ordinance in Stevens Point that mirrors Milwaukee’s, where a possession of 25 grams or less would lead to a forfeiture of $50, with subsequent possessions of the same amount resulting in the same forfeiture, with none of the above resulting in a felony.
With this letter we hope to ignite a conversation about marijuana decriminalization in our city, and we would love to hear your comments.