Stevens Point lowers fines for marijuana possession
STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAW) - The City of Stevens Point Common Council approved an ordinance Monday to lower the fine for first-time marijuana possession from $100 to $5.
Mayor Mike Wiza says Stevens Point is catching up with trends seen in other parts of the country.
“We are de-prioritizing the use of recreational marijuana and most importantly sending a message to the state,” Wiza said.
Polls taken two years ago showed 83% of people living in Portage County are in favor of medical marijuana.
“We don’t have to guess how many people in the city are for this. We know that number. And that’s why we pushed so hard on this,” said marijuana advocate Ben Kollock.
Stevens Point business Alleviate Wellness sells a variety of cannabis-based products. They say their customer base is not what you’d expect.
“The people that are looking for cannabis products now often are veterans, your older generation coming in to alleviate for pain and things like that,” said Alleviate Wellness owner Mitchell Craven.
Not everyone agrees with the decision. For Marla Schultz of Stevens Point it’s a matter of public safety.
“Because they can use it both recreationally and medicinal so people smoke it, and then they think it’s okay to drive,” Schultz said.
The ordinance only affects the city of Stevens Point. Surrounding municipalities’ fines are unchanged and state and federal laws also still apply.
“You may be subject to criminal charges from the state anyway, even for that first offense,” said Mayor Wiza.
Kollock said he doesn’t predict the ordinance will be abused.
“I think the vast majority of residents of Stevens Point are responsible adults. I don’t see there being a widespread issue. If there is, we’ll tackle it as it comes along,” Kollock said.
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