A bipartisan bill would ease penalties for possession of small amounts of cannabis in Wisconsin, but stops short of legalization.
Republican Representative Shae Sortwell says his party’s attitudes are changing. “There was just a Gallop Poll that came out a couple of days ago, that mentioned that 50 percent of Republicans support full legalization. That’s not what this bill does . . it tries to run a middle of the ground approach,” Sortwell said during a Tuesday press conference.
The bill lowers the penalty for possessing less than a half-ounce to a one hundred dollar civil forfeiture statewide, similar to a traffic violation. The current fine in Milwaukee is just a buck plus court costs. “The damage that small amounts of marijuana being considered a felony in our state, it’s worth the tradeoff,” said Milwaukee Democrat, Representative Sylvia Ortiz-Velez.
“I’ve had discussions with cannabis advocates. I’ve had this discussion with numerous people. We understand it’s worth the tradeoff. And that’s coming from the person who actually made it one dollar in Milwaukee County. And the repeat offense also.”
“Yes, there’s going to be some areas of the state that are going to have their financial penalties raised, as in Milwaukee County. There’s going to be some counties where their fines are going to be lowered. I’ve talked to some sheriffs where right now they have fines of up to 500 dollars that they’re enforcing. This bill would not allow that to happen.”
Possession of between half an ounce and an ounce of marijuana would be a misdemeanor, while possession of over an ounce would see no change. The bill also ends the repeat offense enhancement for possession of less than a half-ounce.