In my opinion, this type of decriminalization effort should have been the first marijuana reform bill submitted after the Republicans gutted everything marijuana reform from the budget. This is not new for the elephants in the room and it may not all be politically driven as some of these people just hate marijuana.
It is obvious this year the Republican leadership hates marijuana. Leadership rejected and killed any marijuana reform, even the bills vetted and approved by their own Republican caucus (medical marijuana SB 683 / AB 750).
Republicans have been killing marijuana reform since taking control over a decade ago. Back in 2013 when the public defenders office put together a budget proposal to save tax payers money and could have prevented hundreds of thousands of arrests by simply decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. The Republicans that year denied the budget cut request and have held hard onto the just say no mentality.
This new decriminalization bill was introduced late in the session and failed to attract even one Republican co-sponsor yet. The 2017 bill was basically the same wording, same bill and again the lead Assembly author was a Republican, Rep. Adam Jarchow (R-Balsam Lake). Jarchow is no longer an elected rep, but there are five other GOP cosponsors from the 2017 bill that are…. and two of them are now Republican Senators, Kathleen Bernier (R-Lake Hallie), Reps. Joel Kitchens (R-Sturgeon Bay) Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield), Paul Tittl (R-Manitowoc) and Michael Schraa (R-Oshkosh).
So far, this bill, this session, has only attracted Democrats: Goyke is co-author and co-sponsors are Shankland, Considine, Kolste, Sinicki, Crowley, Gruzynski, Brostoff, Subeck, Anderson, Bowen, Spreitzer – Senate co-sponsors are Smith, Taylor, Larsen.
RE: Co-Sponsorship of LRB-5228 relating to: possession of not more than 10 grams of marijuana and providing a penalty.
In the last decade, 161,016 arrests were made for simple possession of marijuana. Comparatively, there were 19,190 arrests made for possession with intent to deliver.
The burden placed on local resources, from police focus, man-hours for arrests, paper work, and court appearances, to the court system dockets and public defender costs, would be much better spent on serious, violent crimes.
Like other common substances consumed by adults – alcohol, psychoactive caffeine, etc. – we recognize morally that the victimless crime of imbibing is itself not illegal. We do still hold individuals legally responsible if they should commit crimes while under the influence, as we should.
However, because marijuana is illegal on the federal level, this bill does not legalize marijuana. Instead, it reduces the penalties for possessing negligible amounts. This will act to relieve the financial burden the state and local law enforcement dedicate to marijuana possession, and open up resources for the enforcement of more serious crimes.
When someone is jailed or convicted of a felony for possessing a small amount of marijuana, it affects the rest of their life and makes it very difficult to gain employment. This adds further burdens on our criminal justice system, and makes it harder to businesses to employ qualified workers who have criminal convictions. There are no winners for aggressively enforcing simple marijuana possession.
Current law prohibits a person from possessing or attempting to possess marijuana. A person who is convicted of violating the prohibition may be fined not more than $1,000 or imprisoned for not more than six months, or both, for the first conviction and is guilty of a Class I felony for a second or subsequent conviction.
This bill reduces the current penalty to a $100 forfeiture for possessing or attempting to possess not more than 10 grams of marijuana and eliminates the increase in penalty if second or subsequent violations involve not more than 10 grams of marijuana.
Analysis by Legislative Reference Bureau
Current law prohibits a person from possessing or attempting to possess marijuana. A person who is convicted of violating the prohibition may be fined not more than $1,000 or imprisoned for not more than six months, or both, for first conviction and is guilty of a Class I felony for a second or subsequent conviction. This bill reduces to a $100 forfeiture the penalty for possessing or attempting to possess not more than 10 grams of marijuana and eliminates the increase in penalty if second or subsequent violations involve not more than 10 grams of marijuana.