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City Enacts New Law on Pot Possession


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Citing a chance to grab more dollars for its city coffers, the Sheboygan Common Council unanimously passed an ordinance Monday night that would fine first-time offenders convicted of possessing 25 grams or less of marijuana up to $1,000.

Sheboygan police would still seek misdemeanor charges against people caught with small amounts of marijuana, but would send the cases to the Sheboygan County District Attorney's Office, which offers first-time offenders a chance to plead down from a criminal charge to an ordinance violation, which involves paying a fine, but no criminal charges.

By creating the marijuana ordinance, fines generated by offenders would go directly to the city, rather than the Sheboygan County Circuit Court system.

"It's a revenue enhancer, and I guess in my mind it's kind of a no-brainer to me, if these people are going to be arrested and if the city is going to get the revenue, if it's a city arrest, why wouldn't we want to get the revenue rather than having the county get it?" said Ald. Jim Bohren, whose Law and Licensing Committee supported the ordinance.
Officials did not know Monday how much the city could raise in fines, but Bohren estimated it could be in the "thousands of dollars."

State law requires that cities have an ordinance for first-time offenders on the books, but Sheboygan never has had one. Sheboygan County created one several years ago, and under state law, if Sheboygan police arrest someone for a small amount of marijuana, the county law allowing for decriminalizing a first offense takes effect, and the circuit court keeps the fines.

Now the city will get the money.

"We're going to keep writing them as criminal, but if the DA's office wants to bump them down, at least we'll get the money for it," said Chuck Adams, assistant city attorney.

The city fines, between $250 and $1,000 would be higher than those charged in circuit court, which are around $100, plus court costs. Adams said the bigger city fines would send a message that the city believes a marijuana offense is still serious.

Tim Eirich, Sheboygan interim police chief, said he's concerned about the city marijuana ordinance, because he personally believes that first time marijuana cases merit criminal charges, and that drug use leads to other crimes, such as burglaries.

"I still don't like it, because I think marijuana still should always be a misdemeanor, but in today's times it's up to the district attorney to make that decision that they're going to reduce it on the first time offense for marijuana," Eirich said.

Sheboygan County District Attorney Joe DeCecco said that even though first-time, small amount marijuana offenders are given a chance to plead down to a non-criminal citation, he prefers that police seek a misdemeanor because it gives his office a chance to review each case for additional possible criminal violations.

"We would amend it to the ordinance if they qualified for the ordinance, and it's worked out just fine," DeCecco said.

News Hawk- Weedpipe 420 MAGAZINE ® - Medical Marijuana Publication & Social Networking
Source: Sheboygan Press
Author: Bob Petrie
Contact: sheboyganpress.com | Sheboygan Press | Sheboygan news, community, entertainment, yellow pages and classifieds. Serving Sheboygan, WI
Copyright: Sheboygan Press
Website:City enacts new law on pot possession | sheboyganpress.com | Sheboygan Press
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