Shepherd Express reports..
At the urging of Alderman Michael Verveer of Madison’s District 4, the Madison City Council will be voting on three proposed ordinances that would liberalize the city’s cannabis laws, further decriminalizing possession or use of small quantities of pot.
“Unless something very unusual occurs between now and when the City Council considers that matter, approval is assured,” Verveer assures. The ordinances all have at least 13 co-sponsors, more than enough to ensure a strong majority in the 20-member council. “The mayor is supportive as well; he has agreed to formally co-sponsor the measures,” Verveer adds. The ordinances have only been referred to the Public Safety Review Committee, which unanimously recommended their adoption on Wednesday, Oct. 14. According to Verveer, “It will move to the next City Council meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 20.”
What Will Change?
Under the current statutes, marijuana is decriminalized in Madison when possessed or used in one’s private residence. That has been true since 1977, when the City Council of the time stripped the Madison Police Department (MPD) officers of their discretion when charging people for possession of cannabis in a private space—but not in public. To this day, while MPD officers have to turn a blind eye to small-time private possession, it is left to their discretion whether to issue a citation for public possession.
“The reality is that thousands of citations have been issued by Madison police officers. They had great discretion,” Verveer explains. “Over the years, the City Council has increased fines for a myriad of other offenses, but we froze the fines on casual possession of marijuana. Currently, the citation in Madison is $50 plus court costs; most of those court costs are required by state statute, and that makes for a total of $124 today.”