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Eau Claire County Board calls on state to legalize or decriminalize marijuana

Updated: Jun. 15, 2021 at 10:34 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - The Eau Claire County Board of Supervisors approved a resolution Tuesday calling on state lawmakers to legalize or decriminalize recreational marijuana possession for anyone over 21.

Though the resolution has no force of law, but Supervisor Zoe Roberts, the person behind the push for the resolution, said it sends a message to lawmakers in Madison.

The resolution states several reason why the board believes the state should take action.

It sites the fact that Wisconsin is one of 17 states where marijuana arrests went up between 2010 and 2018. It also sites racial inequalities in those arrest numbers.

According to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, marijuana possession is a misdemeanor on the first offense. All subsequent offenses are felonies.

Roberts said she doesn’t support the resolution just because she feels it’s the right thing to do but it’s also a good idea for practical reasons.

“Michigan is recreational, Illinois is recreational, Canada is recreational, Minnesota is medicinal and likely going recreational,” she said. “We’re not stopping anything. So really one of my goals is here is to try to free the police up to work on heavier cases against other types of drugs like fentanyl or meth.”

Another supervisor supported the resolution but isn’t optimistic it’ll impact business in Madison.

“As a recommendation to the legislature, I’m in support but unfortunately I don’t think it has a snowball’s chance. But we are making an important point that there is a lot of injustice that has happened because of this,” Supervisor Robin Leary said.

Roberts is also planning on bringing a resolution forward reducing the fine for marijuana possession in Eau Claire County to $1.

She said the potential ordinance is still in committee as supervisors work out some of the language. She’s optimistic the full board could take up the matter as soon as July.

The City of Eau Claire made the fine for possession of marijuana $1 in 2018.