News, Politics

A Wisconsin County Reduces Cannabis Possession Fines to $1

November 12, 2020 03:30 pm ET
A Wisconsin County Reduces Cannabis Possession Fines to $1

Have you ever been arrested for cannabis possession? If so, then you know how horrible this experience is. Chances are the charge went on your permanent record affecting your chances at future employment, housing, and other opportunities. Cannabis prohibition has been no stranger to ruining lives. Draconian laws punishing a victimless crime have crushed the hopes and dreams of millions. This continued prohibition has led to the mass incarceration of the American nation. In fact, the United States of America incarcerates more of its population than any other country on the planet. Is this because Americans are just criminals? Many might arguably say yes to this, but the truth is that locking up a large majority of the population is exceptionally profitable.

Since the sale of recreational cannabis began in Illinois on Jan. 1st of 2020, the topic of cannabis reform along the state line in Rock County, Wisconsin, and other areas has become a hot topic. Jacob Taylor is the supervisor of Rock county’s 16th district. He was quoted by media sources saying, “In 2018, the county put out a referendum on marijuana legalization, which passed with 70 percent of county residents voting in favor of that.”

The Fine Details of Recent Changes to Possession Laws

Recently, Rock County’s Board of Supervisors passed a unanimous vote to lower cannabis possession fines to a buck. That’s right, just one single dollar. This new reform doesn’t apply to everyone, though. It only applies to those charged by Sheriff’s Deputies. This form of patchwork law is all too common thanks to the current federal status of cannabis and this enforcement in draconian states. Further, even though fines are significantly lowered, offenders aren’t completely of the hook.

“If a county sheriff pulls you over and you have cannabis in your car, you might get that one dollar ticket, but you’re still going to have a record,” Jacob Taylor has reiterated.

A Personal Tale of Being in The Wrong Place and Wrong Time

I wish we would have been pulled by a sheriff’s deputy a few years earlier. Let me tell you what happened one cold winter day back when I lived in Madison, Wisconsin. It was another typical winter in Wisconsin, cold, cold, and cold. My husband and I, along with a good friend, decided to get out of the snow and go soak in the sun on the beaches of South Carolina at Myrtle Beach. This sounded like a great idea and it would have been, had we not crossed paths with a Wisconsin highway patrol.

The vehicle we were driving, a 1998 Mercedes 600 AMG, was missing a license plate on the front of the car, which was unknown to the owner. The officer pulled over the car while I was driving. My husband was in the passenger seat, and our friend, the owner of the vehicle, was in the backseat sleeping. Officers approached the car and asked for everyone’s identification. While asking for identification, the officer immediately claimed to have smelled cannabis. He threatened to bring a canine unit to the scene. My husband handed over our weed to him, saying it was all his. The other passenger and I were allowed to leave without charges, and my husband was arrested and taken to jail.

They booked him on felony drug trafficking for 2 oz of weed or, as they so elegantly worded the charge, less than 250 grams. Like he was really going to take 2 oz of weed, drive it all the way to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, 16 hours away one way, to sell it and come back reaping profit. This charge ended up costing him an overnight stay in Rock County’s famous correctional institute and three years of Federal probation. He had to take drug counseling classes and pay thousands of dollars for less than $300 worth of cannabis.

Fast Forward to Present Day and Time Sure Have Changed

Now, a few years later, the same charge would have cost us $1 or at the most $3 because there were three of us in the car. He would have been charged differently, still having the charge on his criminal record, and our friend and I could have had a record too. But none of us wouldn’t have faced years of federal probation, drug classes, or all the atrocities that come from an arrest.

Small possession charges like this and others deserve to be expunged. The possession of cannabis is a victimless crime with ramifications that destroy the lives of millions of people. Showing your support voting in favor of positive cannabis reform is a great start, but it isn’t enough. We need to vote in elected officials and leaders that have an open mind to positive and swift cannabis reform and vote out those who oppose it.

The Challenging Legal Landscape of Wisconsin

Wisconsin possession laws are shifting to support positive cannabis reform. It will be a process to see WI legalize cannabis everywhere due to how the state is set up politically. There are many different cities (estimated 190), towns (est. 1260), municipalities (est. 595), villages (est. 407), and (est. 1514) unincorporated communities across the state. Getting all of the different places to agree on positive cannabis reform will most certainly create patchwork law enforcement leading to confusion and a lot of wasted tax dollars for the state of Wisconsin.

In the meantime, though, we must celebrate the small victories, and this is one for the books! Great job, Rock County. Now proactively address the wrongdoings of the past, and you may be on the right path when it comes to cannabis reform.

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