LRB-0435 Talking Points
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LRB-0435 Talking Points

  • LRB-0435 is a good first step. It is Republican led and seems vetted by the GOP caucus, which must indicate caucus support for this measure; the bill should receive a public hearing.
  • This bill will save taxpayer resources. 
  • It creates a non misdemeanor/ non felony option at the state level.
  • It creates uniformity which will bring police and district attorney support.
  • It makes the maximum fine $100 locally in all of the municipalities.
  • This new $100 fine is far lower than most local ordinance fine amounts are currently set at. If the state does not make municipalities comply with the $100, local ordinances could stay substantially higher.
  • If a medical marijuana law is established that does not allow smoking products, this might be important to protect patients in that program.
  • It still allows District Attorney discretion to decline or try the case under the municipalities’ ordinance when under 10 grams.
  • It still allows municipalities to choose their own fines for amounts over 10 grams.
  • Municipalities can make this new state fine or other cannabis laws the lowest priority for Law Enforcement.
  • This may make more receptive municipalities move even further towards legalization.
  • There are 595 municipalities in Wisconsin, about a dozen municipalities currently have fines less than $100:
    This list may not be exhaustive because there is no definitive source to search and compare municipal codes, but from searching codes, news articles, and other coverage/discussion, here is what was found. The following Wisconsin municipalities have ordinances with penalties, at least for the first offense, of less than $100 or with penalties with a range that includes values below $100:

•             Appleton: $50-$150 (Appleton Resolution #15-R-20)

•             Eau Claire: $1 (Eau Claire Ordinances § 1.24.030 Cn. 1.)

•             Green Bay: $1-$1,1000 (Green Bay Ordinances § 27.902 (2))

•             Kenosha: $10-$750, plus costs of prosecution (Kenosha Ordinances § 11.146)

•             La Crosse: $1 (La Crosse Ordinances §§ 32-163 (A); 32-1 (c))

•             Madison: $1 (Madison Ordinances §§ 23.20 (2); 1.08)

•             Milwaukee: $0-$50 (Milwaukee Ordinances § 106-38 3. a-1.)

•             Monona: No penalty for possession, use in or on one’s personal residence, or use as lawfully invited by the owner of a residence (Monona Ordinances § 335-11 B.)

•             Racine: $75 (Racine Ordinances § 66-261 (b))

•             Sturgeon Bay: $0-$100 (Sturgeon Bay Ordinances §§ 10.20; 25.04 (5) (a))

•             Waukesha: $50-$500 (Waukesha Ordinances § 11.01 (5); 11.01 (10))

•             Wausau: $50-$500 (Wausau Ordinances §§ 9.04.037; 9.04.038)

Milwaukee County is also considering a proposal to drop its marijuana penalties to $1; see “Milwaukee County supervisors explore dropping fine for marijuana possession to $1 maximum” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel).

Several other counties have adopted similar measures:

•             Manitowoc County: $50-$500 (Manitowoc County Ordinances § 6.255)

•             Oconto County: $1-$1,000 (Oconto County Ordinances § 19.050 (e) (2))

•             Rock County: $1 (Rock County Resolution no. 20-9A-067)

In addition to fines, those who violate local marijuana ordinances also pay associated court costs, which can increase the penalty significantly; Eau Claire’s $1 fine becomes $148 when court costs are included, and a $200 maximum fine in West Allis becomes $1,321. This bill would decrease both the social and monetary burden on those who receive tickets for marijuana in almost every municipality.

This may not be the exact bill that we would have hoped for if we were writing it ourselves. However this is a great first step in the right direction, and would bring relief to a lot of people who get caught up in the system. We appreciate all of the legislators who support this bill.

For these reasons and more, Northern Wisconsin NORML and Southeastern Wisconsin NORML have joined together to voice our support for LRB-0435.

Please contact your elected representatives today and ask them to vote YES to LRB-0435. 

Find your legislators here: https://legis.wisconsin.gov/

LRB-0435 is currently being circulated for co-sponsorship with a co-sponsorship deadline of February 17th, 2021.