Madison alders propose loosening local marijuana laws

MADISON, Wis. — Thirteen Madison alders have sponsored proposals that would further decriminalize marijuana. The proposals on last Tuesday’s consent agenda would allow anyone over the age of 18 to have and use up to an ounce of marijuana on private or public property with permission from the owner, would allow paraphernalia to use it and would not allow it to be used in any area designated as smoke free.

In Wisconsin, the current laws surrounding cannabis use state that possession of any amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor and punishable up to six months in prison and a $1,000 fine.

Madison Interim Police Chief Vic Wahl said when it comes to enforcing these laws, the Madison Police Department focuses on charging people who have much larger amounts of marijuana.

Wahl said in a statement, “Sometimes marijuana possession could be associated with other criminal activity or problematic behavior and result in enforcement. Generally, it seems better to have decisions on marijuana decriminalization happen at the State level. Changing the ordinance can create confusion.  It also removes the option for officers to issue a municipal citation rather than proceed with a criminal charge when action is needed. If these are going to move forward, I’d prefer that they be consistent with our alcohol laws (and apply only to those 21 and older); that they exempt other areas where the community probably does not want marijuana (parks, public pools, AODA treatment facilities, etc.). Currently only schools and school buses are exempted. Vehicles and traffic safety are also a concern. This only prohibits consuming marijuana in a vehicle if it is operating.”

The Public Safety Review Committee will review the proposals at its meeting Wednesday.