Marathon County marijuana ordinance proposal to be reviewed by CJCC

Published: Jan. 5, 2022 at 9:53 PM CST
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - Smaller fines and less penalties.

That’s what some are hoping to change with Marathon County’s marijuana ordinance. The Marathon County Public Safety and Health and Human Services Committees met Wednesday afternoon to discuss the issue.

The committee decided to refer the proposed ordinance to the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC). They’ll do a review and determine whether or not to update the county’s current ordinance.

Recreational use of marijuana is illegal in Wisconsin. In Marathon County, the current ordinance says law enforcement can charge $250 for the possession of 25 grams of THC or less. It’s something Marathon County Board Supervisor of District 6 Jeff Johnson wants to see change.

“This is only criminal in nature because of state statute,” Johnson said.

Johnson provided this resolution to the public safety committee. He wants to see fines lowered in Marathon County to $50. He argued there’s many dependable users in the county that shouldn’t be criminally charged.

“Some responsible people want to enjoy THC and they shouldn’t fear the criminal justice system as a consequence,” Johnson said.

Johnson said he eventually wants to see the marijuana fine be treated like a parking violation. Pay the fine and move on, with no criminal record. However, others at Wednesday’s meeting weren’t in agreement.

“People do things on drugs they would never do if they had their mental capacity,” Joanna Leonard said.

“Increased risk of mental health issues, impaired driving, as they become 16 and have the ability to drive and there’s the potential for addiction,” another resident said.

Some believe the lower fines would increase crime in the county. People are also concerned this ordinance means THC would be legalized, but the Marathon County Sheriff’s Department said that is not true.

“The ordinance as written today and even if it was revised, would not change how we do our work at the sheriff’s office,” Marathon County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Chad Billeb said.

Chief Deputy Billeb said it’s up to the state level to decriminalize marijuana. The ordinance proposed would change the fine. He said their officers make split decisions based off of regulations.

“Our deputies will still do the same work that they do every day and they will enforce the law as they have always enforced the law,” Billeb said.

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