No Prosecution for a Little Marijuana

No Prosecution for a Little Marijuana
Posted by CN Staff on March 03, 2007 at 06:48:01 PT
By Sandy Cullen
Source: Wisconsin State Journal
Wisconsin -- People who are busted in Dane County for having less than 25 grams of marijuana - a little less than an ounce of pot, or the equivalent of about 20 to 25 joints - will no longer face criminal prosecution, but they could still pay some hefty fines.Citing a lack of resources and continuing staff reductions, District Attorney Brian Blanchard has told police chiefs his office will no longer file charges of criminal possession against individuals for having less than 25 grams of marijuana - an amount many law enforcement agencies consider to be for personal use rather than for distribution to others.
Blanchard's office also will not file charges for possession of drug paraphernalia related to marijuana use."This is not a radical departure from current practice," Blanchard said, adding that one of the major changes is that a person's criminal history will no longer be considered.Municipalities with ordinances prohibiting possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia can still issue citations. In Madison, where possessing up to 28 grams of cannabis in a private place is not a crime, the fine for publicly possessing that amount is $109. In neighboring Fitchburg, the fine is $1,300 for possessing less than 25 grams of marijuana. Both require court appearances for juveniles.Communities without ordinances can submit cases to the district attorney's office for issuance of a county ordinance violation, which carries a $310 fine for possessiion of less than 25 grams of marijuana, said Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney.But individuals will no longer risk having a criminal conviction on record for possessing less than 25 grams of marijuana, a misdemeanor that carries a maximum fine of $1,000, plus court costs, and up to six months in jail - though jail time is rare and fines are usually $100-$200, Blanchard said.Mahoney and Fitchburg Deputy Police Chief Don Bates said they did not expect the change to have much of an impact because citations are usually now issued in such cases.Criminal charges will still be filed for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, Blanchard said. And criminal charges could be filed for possession of less than 25 grams of marijuana in conjunction with other offenses.Gary Storck, co-founder of the Madison chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws and a medical marijuana activist and patient, welcomed the move saying, "I feel it's overdue."But Storck criticized linking it to a lack of resources, with the implication that given additional staffing, criminal charges would be filed."This community has a history very much intermingled with cannabis, like it or not . . . It's a tradition," Storck said. "I think most people understand a little bit of pot is no big deal."But Blanchard said marijuana "can be very harmful," particularly to young people who smoke a lot of it.He said state funding for the district attorney's office has not kept pace with the county's population growth and new laws, and federal grants that had helped offset some of the funding shortage in the past have been reduced. After upcoming retirements, his office will have 29 attorneys - the same number as in 1988, Blanchard said, making it necessary to prioritize what cases will be prosecuted."Marijuana possession is one of the least significant cases we get in our office," he said. Cases with victims - such as sexual and physical assaults and thefts - take priority, he said. Among drug enforcement cases, homicides caused by distribution of heroin, crack cocaine or methadone are much more serious, Blanchard said."I don't think we have a marijuana problem in Dane County," he said. "I think we have a heroin problem. I think we have a crack problem . .  I think we have a much larger alcohol problem than we have a marijuana problem."Source: Wisconsin State Journal (WI)Author: Sandy CullenPublished: March 3, 2007Copyright: 2007 Madison Newspapers, Inc.Contact: wsjopine madison.comWebsite: NORML -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on March 03, 2007 at 15:17:55 PT
It was bad back in the 70s. You could usually depend on running into a friend in the unemployment office. I am hoping for a sane policy to surface soon. One that looks at how wrong marijuana laws have been and one that I hope the cost is found to be wasteful. Dennis Kucinich will bring up points like that I hope.
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Comment #5 posted by kaptinemo on March 03, 2007 at 14:39:51 PT:
It was said here, first,, long ago
"Citing a lack of resources and continuing staff reductions..."It was said here many years ago that the DrugWar would eventually have to fold up shop and leave town because the country just can't afford it anymore. Here's more proof. As the economy contracts, hard decsions will have to be made regarding just how much of a DrugWar can we afford when the cost of everything vital to the economic life of the country is going up.It should be noted that the closest this country was to acquiring a rational cannabis policy came during the recession of the 1970's. I recall those hard economic times none-too-fondly, as would anyone alive then. I can only hope that it will not require such suffering again in order to finish the job...
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on March 03, 2007 at 12:51:28 PT
2 Teens Unconscious After Smoking Tainted Pot
Police Do Not Yet Know What Was Added To Marijuana March 2, 2007 (CBS) BARRINGTON, Ill. -- Two teenagers in the northwest suburbs were unconscious and in critical condition Friday night after smoking marijuana laced with an unknown substance earlier this week.The incidents occurred in far northwest suburban Barrington. Police believe the cases are unrelated, and that the teens did not know the marijuana was tainted.Police have not yet figured out what was in the marijuana, but cocaine, PCP and embalming fluid are frequently added to marijuana to boost its effect.Matthew Hunter, 18, is hospitalized in Evanston after he smoked tainted marijuana in Barrington Monday, according to his father, David Hunter. Hunter’s sister witnessed him jump out of a window after behaving erratically Monday afternoon.Hunter’s father described his status as stable, but that he is in a “psychotic” condition.Copyright: MMVI, CBS Broadcasting, Inc.
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Comment #3 posted by ekim on March 03, 2007 at 09:25:06 PT
please have Leap speaker at your next event
Mar 3 07 Montana ACLU Annual Meeting 02:00 PM Jim Doherty Helena Montana USA 
 Open to registared guests. EVENT WEBSITE:  Mar 3 07 Encore Presentation of Damage Done: The Drug War Odyssey 07:00 PM  Canada 
 Find out what changed them from ordinary cops who enforced the laws as written, into conscientious objectors to the War on Drugs. Watch Damage Done: The Drug War Odyssey on Global Currents Saturday at 7pm. Mar 3 07 " No Smoke No Mirrors" talk show 09:00 PM Jim Doherty Helena Montana USA 
 WEBSITE: Watch on HCTV cable channel 11
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Comment #2 posted by ekim on March 03, 2007 at 09:09:33 PT
am idol this week let go a guy for cannabis arrest
Saturday, March 3, 2007 Halle Berry bringing Tulia scandal to the big screen?Via Grits for Breakfast comes this news that Halle Berry is going to be playing the role of the lead NAACP attorney in a movie about the Tulia drug bust. (46 people, mostly black, in a very small town, busted for drug sales based on the word of one officer.)
According to the article, production will begin in May.Having a big star like her bring popular visibility to this aspect of the drug war could be very valuable.
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Comment #1 posted by medicinal toker on March 03, 2007 at 07:25:20 PT
no pot problem in dane county
A friend observed that "Since so much weed is smoked in
Dane county, then according to our DA, marijuana is
not a problem anywhere."
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