SUPERIOR, WI – In a unanimous vote Tuesday night, the Superior City Council voted to decriminalize small amounts of medical marijuana.
That means Superior Police officers will now have another tool at their disposal for dealing with people with small amounts of marijuana, something they have made more than 600 arrests for since 2013.
“The fact of the matter is it’s still illegal. There is a fine,” said police chief Nicholas Alexander
Under the current city ordinance, a person in possession of marijuana was guilty of a misdemeanor for their first offense, and a felony for their second offense.
Those are still on the books. However, officers will now have the option to issue a fine for between $100- $500
for someone in possession of 25 grams of marijuana or less, keeping a person out of the criminal system.
“Getting involved in the criminal justice system with even a misdemeanor charge does create a record in someone’s criminal history. That can carry lifelong consequences with it,” said Alexander.
Alexander says the ordinance is a way to give a person a second chance.
“This is an opportunity for some people to make some corrections to their behavior and avoid carrying that consequence later on,” he said.
District Attorney Mark Fruehauf says that doesn’t mean people are guaranteed to get off scot-free for a first offense.
“I still have the discretion to charge criminal charges if I think it’s appropriate,” he said.
The ordinance will undoubtedly keep more people out of jail.
“That certainly wasn’t the motivation to do it,” said Alexander.
Alexander says he is aware of some concerns the community may have and says the ordinance will still hold people accountable.
“We’re not seeking legalization, nor do I support it,” he said.
Superior Police officers will now have another tool at their disposal for dealing with people with small amounts of marijuana…. something they have made more than 600 arrests for since 2013.
“The fact of the matter is it’s still illegal. There is a fine.”
The ordinance is not retroactive and only applies to offenses moving forward.
Superior Mayor Jim Paine has five days to sign the ordinance, or it will go into effect immediately.
The Mayor’s chief of staff said he intends to sign it.
The ACLU has weighed in on the decision. They issued the following statement on Wednesday:
“The ACLU welcomes this change in the city ordinance in Superior as a step in the right direction. We hope to see more changes like this across the state. The aggressive enforcement of marijuana possession laws needlessly ensnares hundreds of thousands of people into the criminal justice system and wastes billions of taxpayers’ dollars. What’s more, it is carried out with staggering racial bias. Despite being a priority for police departments nationwide, the War on Marijuana has failed to reduce marijuana use and availability and diverted resources that could be better invested in our communities. “